Central American Seaway

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The Central American Seaway, also called the Panamanic Seaway or Inter-American Seaway was an ancient body of water that once separated North America from South America. It formed in the Mesozoic (200-154 mya) during the separation of the Pangaean supercontinent, and closed when the Isthmus of Panama was formed by volcanic activity in the late Pliocene (2.76-2.54 mya).

The closure of the Central American Seaway had tremendous effects on oceanic circulation and the biogeography of the adjacent seas, isolating many species and triggering speciation and diversification of tropical and sub-tropical marine fauna.[1] The inflow of nutrient-rich water of deep Pacific origin into the Caribbean was blocked, so local species had to adapt to an environment of lower productivity.[2] It had an even larger impact on terrestrial life. The seaway had isolated South America for much of the Cenozoic, allowing the evolution of a wholly unique diverse mammalian fauna there; when it closed, a faunal exchange with North America ensued, leading to the extinction of many of the native South American forms.[3][4]

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  1. ^ Lessios, H.A. (December 2008). "The Great American Schism: Divergence of Marine Organisms After the Rise of the Central American Isthmus". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (Palo Alto) 39: 63–91. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.38.091206.095815. 
  2. ^ Jain, S.; Collins, L. S. (2007-04-30). "Trends in Caribbean Paleoproductivity related to the Neogene closure of the Central American Seaway". Marine Micropaleontology 63 (1–2): 57–74. doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2006.11.003. 
  3. ^ Simpson, George Gaylord (1980). Splendid Isolation: The Curious History of South American Mammals. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 266. ISBN 0-300-02434-7. OCLC 5219346. 
  4. ^ Marshall, L. G. (July–August 1988). "Land Mammals and the Great American Interchange" (PDF). American Scientist 76 (4): 380–388. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-02. Retrieved 2014-04-22.