Jorge Velez-Juarbe

Jorge Velez-Juarbe is Predoctoral Fellow in the Department of Paleobiology at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  Born in Isabela, Puerto Rico, Jorge first became interested in fossils at the age of eight, and every since he wanted to be a paleontologist. Jorge has developed an expertise in the evolution and diversification of sirenians (otherwise known as the group that includes seacows, manatees and dugongs) after first collecting fossils of these marine mammals. 

In the summer of 2007, after finishing a bachelor’s degree at the Department of Geology, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, he moved to Washington, DC, to work towards his Ph.D. under the guidance of Daryl Domning in the Department of Anatomy at Howard University. He is also a research student in the Department of Paleobiology, at NMNH, where, as a member of the Pyenson Lab, he pursues his interests in other groups of marine mammals as well other extinct vertebrates from the Caribbean region.  To read more about Jorge's work, see his Caribbean Paleobiology blog and the Ocean Portal Paleobiology Blog.


The Discovery of Multispecies Communities of Seacows

This reconstruction illustrates multispecies communities of seacows from three different time periods and ocean basins. Each seacow represents a different extinct species of dugong. Credit: Carl Buell/

Multispecies Communities of Seacows

Sirenians , or seacows, are a group of marine mammals that include manatees and dugongs . Currently, only a single species of seacow is found anywhere in the world. However, the fossil record of seacows, which dates back 50...

Smithsonian Scientists Describe a 'New' Fossil Whale

A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is pictured in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated left to right in...

Smithsonian Scientists Describe a New Fossil Whale

Monodontids, the group of whales that includes living belugas and narwhals, are emblematic symbols of the Arctic. However, the fossil record shows that these animals had a much larger range than the northern pole. In the...