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The herpetological diversity recorded in the Santa Cruz Formation (late Early
Miocene) is low when compared with that of birds and mammals. It includes the
calyptocephalellid anuran Calyptocephalella,
an indeterminate “leptodactylid,” indeterminate pleurodont
iguanians (including those previously assigned to the extinct genus
tupinambine teiid Tupinambis, and
indeterminate “colubrids.” The presence of Calyptocephalella in the Estancia La Costa locality represents
its southernmost record and might indicate the occurrence of permanent lowland
lakes, ponds, and quiet streams, possibly developed in a forested area. The
presence of Tupinambis and
“colubrids” at around 50° S represents the southernmost
record in their respective evolutionary histories, suggesting warmer and
probably more humid conditions in the late Early Miocene than those prevailing
in southern Patagonia at present. Based upon the diets of extant Calyptocephalella and “colubrids” we
consider the Santacrucian Miocene representatives to be small carnivorous
vertebrates. Santacrucian pleurodont iguanians should be included in the
insectivorous and/or herbivorous groups, whereas Tupinambis would have been a generalist omnivorous reptile.