Tuesday, February 26, 2019

New fossil records of triggerfish from the Miocene of Cuba

Exciting news for the Cuban fossil record! A new article was recently published on the journal Historical Biology describing a new species of triggerfish (Balistes vegai) and a new occurrence record for the triggerfish species Balistes crassidens from the Miocene of Matanzas, Cuba. This is an exciting new contribution to the geological and fossil record, particularly the region of Matanzas, and the island of Cuba in general.

The article is co-authored by the Cuban researchers Lazaro W. Viñola and Logel Lorenzo along with the specialist Richard Carr of Montana State University. In it, the authors provide not only the description of the new species but also a revision of the taxonomy and fossil record of the genus.

The fish of the genus Balistes are most diverse in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean, with a few species occurring also in the Mediterranean and western Atlantic. Two species are currently known from the Caribbean: Balistes vetula and Balistes capriscus. The new species, B. vegai, is so far the largest species described. It was named in honor of Johnny Vega Piloto, a member of the Cuban Speleological Society, who in 2013 discovered the first fossil evidence.


Copyright 2019
Artistic reconstruction of Balistes vegai by Ethan Schmunk showing
an adult B. vegai chasing a juvenile megalodon shark (Otodus megalodon) in Cuban waters. 

Balistes are peculiar fish characterized by an elongated snout, powerful jaws, and teeth that allow them to prey on invertebrates such as sea urchins. These are often aggressive and territorial fishes. Generally, these are not easily digestible by humans since they tend to be toxic. Nonetheless, people eat them in several parts of Cuba and the Caribbean.

Maybe one of the most relevant aspects of this discovery is its implication for the local fossil record, and Caribbean natural history, geology, and paleontology in general. The presence of triggerfish in the Miocene rocks of Cuba suggests the existence of marine ecosystems similar to those exploited by these fish in the region today. Moreover, it supports the hypothesis that a wide, shallow and warm sea existed in what is today the central lowlands and low hills of the Matanzas region, about a dozen million years ago.


Cite:

Viñola, L. W., R. Carr, and L. Lorenzo (2019). First occurrence of fossil Balistes (Tetradontiformes: Balistidae) from the Miocene of Cuba with the description of a new species and a revision of fossil Balistes. Historical Biology DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2019.1580278.

 
Para leer una versión en español, visite nuestro otro blog San Carlos de Matanzas aquí

 
 

Friday, January 25, 2019

New Book: Cuba, Archaeology and Historical Legacy

A new book on Cuban archaeology was presented this past January 25, in the old city of La Habana, Cuba. The event was sponsored by the city of Havana historian's office, the Montane Anthropological Museum and the Cultural Patrimony Council. The title of the work is "Cuba: Arqueología y Legacía Histórica" (Polymita).



This is an important contribution, which in the constellation of other recent works - which includes several important articles and full-length treaties on several themes – gathers some of the most significant minds of Cuban archaeology of the XX and XXI centuries.


The book includes a series of diverse articles touching upon current issues and problematica in the fields of archaeological and historical research in Cuba. There are sections on the interpretation of aboriginal or prehistoric burial practices, use of fauna, and applications of theoretical archaeology; plus, the interpretation of the chronicles penned by conquistadores during the first decades of the colonization. Moreover, it includes an array of classic works on physical anthropology, toolkits and technological usage of wood and mollusks. The contributions provided both by the young and the older, though distinguished, generations of archaeologists. Among them, some of the most renown names in Cuban and Caribbean archaeology.




Within the attendees were the city historians Eusebio Leal Spengler (La Habana) and Ercilio Vento Canosa (Matanzas), the conservator of the city of Matanzas, Leonel Perez Orozco, among other prominent Cuban archaeologists. Presenting were Jorge Garcell of the council of Cultural Patrimony and the photographer - wind beneath the wings of this publication- Julio Larramendi.

Please, join us in congratulating our friends and colleagues, those that made within and outside the covers, for this important contribution.


A complete list of the book’s content is here provided (in Spanish):

PRÓLOGO
José Barreiro

LOS ESTUDIOS SOBRE ARQUEOLOGÍA ABORIGEN EN CUBA: TEORÍAS Y APRECIACIONES
Armando Rangel Rivero
LAS COMUNIDADES ABORÍGENES DE CUBA. CENSO 2013
José Jiménez Santander, Liamne Torres La Paz, Dany Morales Valdés y Lisandra Jiménez Ortega

CRÓNICAS Y CRONISTAS DE INDIAS OCCIDENTALES
Ulises M. González Herrera

VIDA COTIDIANA Y ORGANIZACIÓN SOCIAL DE LAS COMUNIDADES ABORÍGENES DE CUBA
Lillián J. Moreira de Lima

POBLACIÓN ABORIGEN PRECOLOMBINA. DESCRIPCIÓN DE LAS CARACTERÍSTICAS CRANEALES Y LA ESTATURA
Manuel F. Rivero de la Calle

LA ALIMENTACIÓN DE LOS ABORÍGENES DE CUBA
Roberto Rodríguez Suárez y Yadira Chinique de Armas

EL ARTE COMO EXPRESIÓN SOCIAL DE LOS ABORÍGENES DE CUBA
Lourdes Sarah Domínguez González

ANIMALES EN EL ARTE ABORIGEN
Carlos Arredondo Antúnez y Rafael Borroto-Páez
PINTURAS Y GRABADOS RUPESTRES EN EL ARCHIPIÉLAGO CUBANO
Divaldo A. Gutiérrez Calvache y José B. González Tendero

MEDICINA DE LOS ABORÍGENES DE CUBA
Enrique Beldarraín Chaple

LOS BATEYES ABORÍGENES: JUEGO Y RITO EN EL ESPACIO COMUNAL
Daniel Torres Etayo

COSTUMBRES FUNERARIAS: LA MUERTE, EL ESPACIO Y EL TRATAMIENTO DEL CADÁVER EN LAS COMUNIDADES ORIGINARIAS DE CUBA
Jorge Fernando Garcell Domínguez

LOS ABORÍGENES Y EL USO DE LOS MOLUSCOS
Alina Lomba Garmendia y Daniel Torres Etayo

LAS INDUSTRIAS LÍTICAS DE LAS SOCIEDADES ABORÍGENES EN CUBA
Gerardo Izquierdo Díaz

LAS MADERAS EN LOS OBJETOS ABORÍGENES CUBANOS
Raquel Carreras Rivery
LA INDUSTRIA DE LA MADERA DE LOS ABORÍGENES DE CUBA
Gabino La Rosa Corzo

EL ÁREA ARQUEOLÓGICA LOS BUCHILLONES: ZONA EXCEPCIONAL PARA EL CARIBE
Adrián García Lebroc y Jorge Calvera Rosés

EL CHORRO DE MAÍTA
Roberto Valcárcel Rojas

EL LEGADO ARUACO EN EL ESPAÑOL CUBANO
Sergio Valdés Bernal

DESCENDIENTES DE LOS ABORÍGENES CUBANOS
Manuel F. Rivero de la Calle

LA HUELLA ABORIGEN EN EL PATRIMONIO GENÉTICO DE LA NACIÓN CUBANA
Beatriz Marcheco Teruel

ENTREVISTA A ALEJANDRO HARTMAN, HISTORIADOR DE BARACOA Y DIRECTOR DEL MUSEO MATACHÍN

 

Photographs published here are courtesy of personnel of the Oficina del Historiador de La Habana. Most special thanks to Lisette Roura Alvarez (C).

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Survey Question

Why write for an audience that does not like to read? Why try to teach a population that is not interest in learning?

Hi there readers of the blogverse! Please help me explore these questions. If you have answers to these queries please leave a message below.


Nautilus macromphalus (Mollusca: Nautilida) or bellybutton nautilus,
a shelled mollusk from New Caledonia and
the Loyalty Islands of the South Pacific Ocean.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Local practices did not often follow royal orders

Our new article is out, published in the Cuban traditional journal Islas. This specialized magazine divulges studies in humanities and social sciences and has been in existence since 1958 when it was first edited and coordinated by Samuel Feijoo. Today, its base is located in the Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas, in central Cuba.

Main drawbridge to the Castillo de San Severino, Matanzas city, Cuba

The article deals with the earliest and lest known history of the Castillo de San Severino, the cities’ oldest building and the main reason for the city’s official foundation. Most especially, it drives home the point that many of the ordinances, related to the Castillo’s construction and the city’s foundation, although painstakingly designed and ordained in such manner by the crown, where not fully obeyed by the local officials. This likely mirrors the situation, not just in rural Cuba, but also in its major cities and throughout the New World, far from the Spanish Crown. This was likely the cause of differences in what the crown thought best for its subjects and colonies, and what the inhabitants of those colonies actually needed or felt it was to their best interest.

Here is a brief abstract

Castillo de San Severino in Matanzas had a construction standstill that lasted between 1694 and 1716. The historiography of the fort during these years pointed to the lack of funds to maintain a stable labor and materials for its construction as the main cause of the standstill. However, primary documents, including one by Juan de Síscara, assistant engineer to the viceroy of Mexico in 1696, points to other common factors for such delay of construction. In this way, our study provides new information and a new interpretation on one of the least known years of the construction of San Severino, plus insight into the political dynamics that influenced the construction and maintenance of Cuban military entities during the late 17th Century.

The article can be downloaded for free at Islas or here. On that note, I send out a happy birthday to all my friends from La Habana, a city that turns 499 years today.

Citation:

Orihuela, J., O. Hernández de Lara & R. Viera Muñoz (2018). Órdenes reales y prácticas locales: el Castillo de San Severino de Matanzas y la dinámica colonial (1683-1698). Islas 60 (191): 39-68.

 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Matanzas’s City turns 325

For the town of San Carlos de Matanzas, the month of October if full of celebration. It was on that month, in 1693, that the city was officially founded. This year, however, it was more special than ever thanks to the herculean efforts of the Conservator’s Office and its many workers, who have restored the historical part of the city to its colonial splendor and glamour.


Front cover of Revista Matanzas, where our article is featured

In celebration of this historical moment, albeit local and personal, we contributed with a small publication on the local magazine Matanzas. In it, we published a small piece on Matanzas's first coat of arms. Unknown until now was the revelation that the governor Severino de Manzaneda, who founded de city in October 1693, had provided the city with an official coat of arms since 1694, which was approved by the crown in 1698, but unfortunately forgotten by local and crown officials until 1828, when the colonial shield was redesigned.


Colonial Coat of Arms given by the Spanish Crown to the city of Matanzas, 1828,
Courtesy of the Archivo General de Indias.

Although this may seem trivial, the coat of arms of Matanzas has been seen as a unifying symbol, first of its relationship to the Spanish crown and then to the Republic. More interestingly, it was previously unreported or unknown by local and national historians. Thus, this little note added a little piece of history, which was lost amongst the old archive papers in Seville, providing a different hue to our local history's color. Moreover, it adds to the poorly studied Cuban and Novohispanic heraldry.

That article can be accessed for free here. Other posts on Matanzas history can be accessed here.

Stay tuned for more updates on fossils and old documents!

Article can be sited as:

Orihuela León, J., R. A. Viera Muñoz & L. Pérez Orozco (2018). El blasón desconocido: Primer escudo de San Carlos de Matanzas. Revista Matanzas XIX (1/2): 7-11.