By Land or Sea: How Did Mammals Get to the Caribbean Islands?

Repeating Islands

A multidisciplinary team is jointly investigating mammal evolution and subduction dynamics to unravel how flightless land mammals migrated to the Greater Antilles and other Caribbean islands.

A report by Philippe Münch, Pierre-Olivier Antoine, and Boris Marcaillou  for Eos.

This work is dedicated to the memory of Gilles Merzeraud, who passed away on 30 October 2020. As a colleague and as a friend, he was a key figure of the GAARAnti team.

The islands of the West Indies—comprising the Greater Antilles, Bahamas, and Lesser Antilles—feature remarkable biodiversity, with species mainly having originated from South and Central America. These islands are regarded collectively as one of the 25 main biodiversity hot spots on Earth and the third in terms of endemism (a measure of the number of species that are found only in that geographic region) [Myers et al., 2000].

Charles Darwin noted that “the South American character of the…

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