Formation of the Isthmus of Panama

Science Advances
By: , and 



The formation of the Isthmus of Panama stands as one of the greatest natural events of the Cenozoic, driving profound biotic transformations on land and in the oceans. Some recent studies suggest that the Isthmus formed many millions of years earlier than the widely recognized age of approximately 3 million years ago (Ma), a result that if true would revolutionize our understanding of environmental, ecological, and evolutionary change across the Americas. To bring clarity to the question of when the Isthmus of Panama formed, we provide an exhaustive review and reanalysis of geological, paleontological, and molecular records. These independent lines of evidence converge upon a cohesive narrative of gradually emerging land and constricting seaways, with formation of the Isthmus of Panama sensu stricto around 2.8 Ma. The evidence used to support an older isthmus is inconclusive, and we caution against the uncritical acceptance of an isthmus before the Pliocene.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Formation of the Isthmus of Panama
Series title Science Advances
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.1600883
Edition 8
Volume 2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 12 p.
First page 1
Last page 11
Country Columbia, Panama
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details