, Volume 100, Issue 5, pp 437-449

A new fossil thryonomyid from the Late Miocene of the United Arab Emirates and the origin of African cane rats

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Abstract

Cane rats (Thryonomyidae) are represented today by two species inhabiting sub-Saharan Africa. Their fossil record is predominately African, but includes several Miocene species from Arabia and continental Asia that represent dispersal events from Africa. For example, Paraulacodus indicus, known from the Miocene of Pakistan, is closely related to living Thryonomys. Here we describe a new thryonomyid, Protohummus dango, gen. et sp. nov., from the late Miocene Baynunah Formation of the United Arab Emirates. The new thryonomyid is less derived than “Thryonomysasakomae from the latest Miocene of Ethiopia and clarifies the origin of crown Thryonomys and the evolutionary transition from Paraulacodus. A phylogenetic analysis shows Protohummus dango to be morphologically intermediate between Paraulacodus spp. and extinct and living Thryonomys spp. The morphological grade and phylogenetic position of Protohummus dango further supports previous biochronological estimates of the age of the Baynunah Formation (ca. 6–8 Ma).

Communicated by: Robert J. Asher