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New Remains of Camelus grattardi (Mammalia, Camelidae) from the Plio-Pleistocene of Ethiopia and the Phylogeny of the Genus


The Old World fossil record of the family Camelidae is patchy, but a new partial cranium and some other remains of Camelus grattardi from the Mille-Logya Project area in the Afar, Ethiopia, greatly increase the fossil record of the genus in Africa. These new data – together with analysis of unpublished and recently published material from other sites, and reappraisal of poorly known taxa – allow for a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis showing that C. grattardi is the earliest (2.2–2.9 Ma) and most basal species of the genus. We also show that the lineages leading to the extant taxa C. dromedarius and C. bactrianus diverged much higher in the tree, suggesting a recent age for this divergence. A late divergence date between the extant species is consistent with the absence of any fossil forms that could be ancestral, or closely related, to any of the extant forms before the late Pleistocene, but stands in contrast to molecular estimates which place the divergence between the dromedary and the Bactrian camel between 8 and 4 million years ago.

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We thank the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage and the Afar Regional State for permission to conduct field work in the Mille-Logya area. We also express our gratitude to the people of the Mille and Logya towns and environs for permission and logistical support. We are grateful to C. Argot and J. Lesur (MNHN), G. Baryshnikov (ZIN), D. Berthet (CCEC), P. Brewer (NHMUK), J. Galkin (AMNH), T. Getachew and Y. Assefa (NME), M. Muungu (KNM), and E. Robert (UCBL) for access to collections, to J.-P. Brugal, Y. Chaïd-Saoudi, B. Kear, T. Krakhmalnaya, P. Martini, J. Morales, R. Patnaik, N. Podoplelova, G. Rössner, and V. Titov for photos and other data on fossil collections, to P. Loubry for the photos of Fig. 4, to V. Codrea, P. Martini, and N. Spassov for their help with foreign literature, and to S. Colombero and J. Rowan, whose comments significantly improved the manuscript. Funding to conduct field work was provided by Margaret and Will Hearst.

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Correspondence to Denis Geraads.

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Supplementary Information 1

3D reconstruction of NME-MLP-1346 (made with Agisoft Photoscan). (PDF 2071 kb)

Supplementary Information 2

Description of the characters used in the parsimony analysis; matrix and character list, in TNT format. (DOCX 1975 kb)

Supplementary Information 3

Raw measurements used in Supplementary Information 1 (XLSX 47 kb)

Supplementary Information 4

Matrix used in the parsimony analysis, in Nexus format. (NEX 14 kb)

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Geraads, D., Barr, W.A., Reed, D. et al. New Remains of Camelus grattardi (Mammalia, Camelidae) from the Plio-Pleistocene of Ethiopia and the Phylogeny of the Genus. J Mammal Evol (2019).

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  • Mammalia
  • Camelidae
  • Phylogeny
  • Pleistocene
  • Eastern Africa