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Working across disciplines from stratigraphy to molecular biology, geologists piece together the deep time history of the tropics. By understanding the climate, life forms and ecosystems millions of years ago we better understand life on Earth today. Rock deposits containing fossils of the Neotropics’ earliest forests reveal a warmer, more carbon-rich time and its inhabitants: colossal reptiles like the Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake discovered in a coal mine in Colombia. The fossil record and the greater geological record of Panama and the region document the creation of the land bridge connecting North and South America and dividing the Pacific from the Caribbean, and the resulting evolution of life on both land and in the sea.

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