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A new Desmodillus (Gerbillinae, Rodentia) species from the early Pliocene site of Langebaanweg (South-western Cape, South Africa)
Christiane Denys and Thalassa Matthews
Keywords: Lower Pliocene; Muridae; Rodentia; RSA

doi: 10.18563/pv.41.1.e1

    Situated in the Cape region of the Republic of South Africa (RSA), the paleontological site of Langebaanweg is dated to 5.1 Myr and is famous for having yielded an abundant vertebrate assemblage, including numerous rodent species from the Mio-Pliocene transition. Based on molar morphology and skull anatomy, the single Gerbillinae taxon identified at Langebaanweg and described in this paper is allocated to Desmodillus, which is a modern monotypic South African endemic genus. It is significant in being the oldest representative of the genus in Africa. We describe here a new species of this genus which is larger than the modern D. auricularis, but nevertheless retains some of its main characteristics, namely the shape of the maxilla and mandible, the presence of poorly fused alternating cusps, and no longitudinal crest. This taxon differs from modern South African Gerbilliscus representatives in some mandibular and maxillary characters, in the m1 prelobe cusp, and in having less fused cusps. Two fossil Gerbillinae discovered in the Upper Miocene of Africa and Asia, Abudhabia and Protatera, have been compared with the new species. We discuss their relationships with modern and Plio-pleistocene Gerbillinae and conclude that Abudhabia could be the sister taxon of Desmodillus and that around 6-5 Myr a vicariance event allowed Gerbillinae to diversify into modern Desmodillus in South Africa, and Gerbilliscus in East Africa. The murine/gerbilline ratio, which is a good indicator of rainfall, supports other proxies which suggest that at 5.1 Myr the climate in the Langebaanweg region was more humid than today. 

  Article infos

Published in Vol 41-1 (2018)

S.I. Data
Nouvelles espèces de Dendromus (Rongeurs,Muriodea) à Langebaanweg (Pliocène,Afrique du Sud) conséquences stratigraphiques et Paléoecologiques
Christiane Denys
Keywords: Dendromurinae; Paleoecology; Pliocene; Rodents; South Africa; Stratigraphy

    New Dendromus species (Rodentia, Muroídea) from Langebaanweg (Pliocene, South Africa). Stratigraphical and paleoecological consequences.

    Two new species of Dendromus are described from the Langebaanweg site which precises the evolutionary trend among this genus in South Africa and gives further paleoenvironmental indications. Two evolutionary stages are described: D. darti nov. sp. shows low-crowned molars with bunodont cusps and its more closest relative would be D. melanozis from the Cape region. On the contrary, D. averyi nov. sp. is more lophodont and is better related with the modem D. melanotis. Both species are at a less evolved stage than the Dendromus sp. from Laetolil Beds at Laetoli. The Langebaanweg deposits cannot still be dated by biostratigraphy but they clearly cannot be older than the basis of Pliocene times. The association of Dendromus and Mystromys in the same levels indicates a grassland environment with woodland patches as well as probable swamps. 

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Published in Vol. 23, Fasc. 1-4 (1994)

Owls, caves and fossils. Predation, preservation and accumulation of small mammal bones in caves, with an analysis of the Pleistocene cave faunas from Westbury-Sub-Mendip, Somerset, UK, par Peter Andrews, 1990. The University of Chicago Press, 232 p.
Christiane Denys
Keywords: caves; owls; preservation; taphonomy

    La taphonomie (science de l'enfouissement et de la fossilisation) des micromammifères a trop souvent été négligée par rapport à celle des grands mammifères. Or, pour expliquer les concentrations parfois très importantes de microfossiles dans les grottes et les sites préhistoriques il faut connaître les mécanismes qui concourrent actuellement à favoriser les accumulations de ces derniers. C'est le but de l'ouvrage de Peter Andrews qui se décompose en deux parties. 

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Published in Vol. 22, Fasc. 1 (1992)