Panama Canal Project: Fossils and Global Change

Related Expertise: Long-Term Research
Date Initiated: 2016

When Smithsonian paleobotanist Carlos Jaramillo learned that expansion of the Panama Canal in 2006 would involve blasting away 100 million tons of rock, he saw a unique opportunity to study the geology and fossils of this important bridge between two continents. Carlos and a team of researchers from the U.S., Colombia and Panama used a number of geological techniques and fossil collecting on a massive scale to explore how the Isthmus of Panama was formed.

They found an abundant and unique fossil record. These findings help us understand how this single historical incident— the creation of a land bridge between the America— changed our global climate and the evolution of life in the Americas.

Learn more about this Project

Smithsonian Uses Fossil Records in Panama to Model Future Climate Change