This volume summarizes the history of Latin American vegetation from just prior to the asteroid impact at Chicxulub, Mexico, at the end of the Cretaceous period through the rapid-paced events of Holocene and Recent times, tracing highlights in the origin of lineages and plant communities that constitute a fundamental part of the tropical ecosystems of the New World. Emphasis is placed on the array of available methods and approaches, as well as on the need for incorporating ancillary information from the many relevant disciplines and for assessing the paleobiological results within the context of independent lines of inquiry-particularly important for understanding the vast and complex communities of Latin America.
The summary is based on approximately 350 fossil floras and 4,000 literature references to vegetation history and related topics. It includes a catalog of some 10,000 fossil plants arranged in tables and appendices by geographic location (country or region), taxonomic group, and geologic age. From this unique database, lineage histories, terrestrial paleoenvironments, migrations, and responses to evolutionary processes are reconstructed that have shaped the Latin American vegetation over the past 100 million years.