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Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 115–127 | Cite as

A new species of Kolpochoerus (Mammalia: Suidae) from the Pliocene of Central Afar, Ethiopia: Its Taxonomy and Phylogenetic Relationships

  • Yohannes Haile-Selassie
  • Scott W. Simpson
Original Paper

Abstract

Kolpochoerus (Mammalia: Suidae) is a suine genus represented by a number of species from Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa. While the general trends in Kolpochoerus evolution are broadly known, gaps in the fossil record preclude an understanding of the details of its evolutionary tempo and mode. Here, we describe a new species, Kolpochoerus millensis, based on new fossil material from the Woranso-Mille and Gona sites in the Central Afar region of Ethiopia and dated to 3.5–3.8 million years ago (Ma). Third molars of K. millensis are metrically and morphologically intermediate between the early Pliocene K. deheinzelini and earliest late Pliocene K. afarensis. It appears that K. deheinzelini, K. millensis, and K. afarensis are temporally disjunct and phenetically distinguishable parts of a single evolving lineage. The recognition of these chronospecies provides additional evidence for anagenetic evolution. It demonstrates clearly the presence of transitional forms in the fossil record. The extensive and well-dated Kolpochoerus fossil record serves as one of the best documented examples of the occurrence of phyletic evolution. Moreover, K. millensis is one of the best biochronological markers in eastern Africa for the time between 3.5 and 3.8 Ma.

Keywords

Suinae Kolpochoerus Taxonomy Phylogeny Phyletic evolution Woranso-Mille Gona Pliocene Ethiopia 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the government of the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia for facilitating fieldwork permits, the Paleoanthropology Laboratory of the National Museum of Ethiopia for laboratory space and access to the original fossil specimens, and all field participants of the Woranso-Mille Project and Gona Project (S. Semaw, project leader). The National Science Foundation (Grant Nos. BCS-0234320, BCS-0542037), The Leakey Foundation, The National Geographic Society, and The Wenner-Gren Foundation financially supported the field and laboratory work. We also thank Liz Russell for photography. This manuscript benefited from reviews and constructive comments from H.B.S. Cooke, J.M. Harris, and D. Geraads.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical AnthropologyThe Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Anthropology, Cognitive Sciences, Anatomy, and Institute for the Science of OriginsCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyCase Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA

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