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Southwest region, Mexico



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Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: Most of the Southwestern Region of Mexico did not exist in the Precambrian, except for a few areas in the east where Precambrian rocks form a basement under younger rocks and outcrop in a few places. These metamorphic and igneous rocks date back to 1.0 Ga and formed along ancient Gondwana. The movement of tectonic plates brought them to their present position in Mexico.

The Paleozoic: For most of the Paleozoic, much of the Southwestern Region did not exist, except for some areas in the east. These rocks were of sedimentary and igneous origin, deposited off the coast of Gondwana, south of, and an ocean away from, Laurentia. But toward the end of the Paleozoic, the two continents collided, folding, faulting, and altering these rocks while bringing them near to their present-day position. The collision also pushed up some areas, which became covered in forests and wetlands. The western margin of the region was covered in shallow to deep seas that were home to various invertebrates and fishes.

The Mesozoic: Gondwana and Laurentia rifted apart in the Mesozoic but some Gondwana rocks remained in what is now the eastern part of the Southwestern Region. To the west, subduction pushed volcanic islands and slices of oceanic crust against the newly formed continental margin. This activity brought magma near the surface, creating subsurface masses of granite and producing many volcanic eruptions. Over time, the western side of the region was pushed up while the eastern side was flooded by shallow seas. Forests and swamps covered the land, where dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and other animals lived, and the seas were filled with various invertebrates and fishes.

The Cenozoic: In the Cenozoic, the Southwestern Region of Mexico was pushed up and continued to experience substantial volcanic activity. The interactions between the continental plate and oceanic plates in the west changed, which created a line of volcanoes across the northern part of the region. Occasionally, lakes would form behind lava flows, creating wave-cut terraces and leaving deposits on many hillsides. The land was covered in forests, grasslands, and chaparral, and these habitats were home to many animals from both North and South America. As the climate cooled, glaciers developed on the highest mountains.

Links to more on Southwest region paleontology

Careers | Organizations | Research and Collections | Resources


Degree and Certificate Programs (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Earth Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico: Masters and Doctorate programs in the Earth Sciences are offered.

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Societies and Clubs (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Sociedad Mexicana de Paleontologia A.C.: Information on the organization's history, membership, publications, etc.

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Museums (showing 3 of 6 listings)

Museo de Paleontología de Guadalajara: This museum features Pleistocene mammals from western Mexico.

The Regional Museum Mixteco: This museum in Tepexi de Rodriguez, Puebla, Mexico houses fossils from the Tlayua quarry, as well as local archeological items.

Museo de Geología: The museum has displays of invertebrate and vertebrate fossils. Marine invertebrate and Pleistocene vertebrate fossils predominate.

More Museums

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Colleges and Universities (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Collectión Nacional de Paleontología: A short description of the Institute of Geology's National Collection which supports and promotes the science of paleontology in Mexico. Includes e-mail link for more information.

Centro de Geosciencias Laboratorio de Paleontología, UNAM, Juriquilla: Information about the research of Dr. Oscar Carranza Castañeda and UNAM's Center of Geosciences, Laboratory of Paleontology, in Queretaro.

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Research and Collections

Researchers (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Departamento de Paleontologia: A department within Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México's Institute of Geology. Provides links to a brief introduction and faculty web pages with information on their research interests.

Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum: Home page for the LEB at University of Texas at El Paso, with information on collections and research.

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Ongoing Research Projects (showing 2 of 2 listings)

The Tlayúa quarry near Tepexi de Rodriguez, Puebla, Mexico: Information about this Cretaceous fossil site that has been studied by researchers from UNAM's Institute of Geology for more than ten years.

Wade E. Miller PaleoProfile: Miller is Professor of Geology and Paleontology at BYU, and does field research in central Mexico.

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History of Paleontology (showing 2 of 2 listings)

The Importance of Fossils: A short history of paleontology in Mexico written in May 2000.

Dinosaurios en México: A history of dinosaur discoveries in Mexico.

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General Reference (showing 3 of 4 listings)

Dinosaurios Mexicanos: A 1998 description of Mexican dinosaur discoveries, with a focus on Coahuila.

Equinodermos fósiles de México: An examination of the known fossil echinoderms from Mexico.

Fossil Permian Plants from Puebla, Mexico: A discussion of fossil plants from the Matzitzi Formation with good photographs.

More General Reference

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Northeast Mexico Region Map
Southeast Mexico Region Map