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2010 Program for Scientists from Economically Developing Nations

Federico Anaya

Federico Anaya

Ever since childhood, Dr. Federico Anaya has been interested in rocks and fossils. This interest, combined with his love of the outdoors, led him to participate in field excursions and, ultimately, in formal studies in geology and paleontology. He earned his Ingeniería degree with a specialty in geology from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia in 1994 and his doctorate in higher education from the Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías, Potosí, in 2008. His doctoral thesis focused on teaching skills for field studies in paleontology, a theme that parallels Federico's primary interests.

Federico's experiences in field paleontology began 25 years ago with a trip to the rich Pleistocene locality of Tarija. The following year he began work at the late Oligocene site of Salla, perhaps best known for producing the earliest evidence for primates in South America. Since then, he has participated in and led more than fifty expeditions throughout Bolivia, from the tropical forested lowlands to some of the highest fossil localities in the Western Hemisphere. He has primarily worked at Cenozoic localities, focusing on the curious endemic mammals of South America. An early major initiative of his was faunal analysis and magnetostratigraphy of the Pliocene fauna of Inchasi, Bolivia, which includes glyptodonts, a giant armadillo, litopterns and two new species of notoungulates. A long-time focus of his has been clarifying the taxonomic diversity, stratigraphy and paleoenvironment of Salla, and he has helped name several new species from there including a marsupial, a pyrothere, a notoungulate and an early sloth. He recently also has been working in the early and middle Miocene of Bolivia (mainly at Cerdas and Quebrada Honda).

Federico currently is Professor of Geology at the Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías inPotosí and spends much of his time teaching classes in geology, paleontology and field research techniques. In addition to mentoring two North American PhD students during their studies at Salla, he has taken more than 400 undergraduate students on expeditions to Bolivian fossil localities for field experiences in geology and vertebrate paleontology. Prior to his present position, he was Curator of Paleontology at the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in La Paz, where he not only was instrumental in organizing the fossil collections and forging collaborative relationships with other researchers, he also hosted an international congress on the Cenozoic of South America.

In 1992, Federico received a Patterson Memorial Grant from the SVP to support his research on Inchasi. More recently, he received a commendation from the national police of Bolivia for his seminars on Bolivia's fossil heritage and how to recognize fossil vertebrates; these were designed to help members of law enforcement prevent the illegal exportation of fossils from Bolivia, a major issue in some areas. Perhaps most significantly, the names of several notoungulates serve as ongoing testaments to Federico's pivotal role in finding and describing fossil vertebrates of Bolivia: Federicoanaya sallaensis, Anayatherium fortis, and Miocochilius federicoi.

Photo courtesy of Federico Anaya.