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

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).

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Abbreviations

AUH:

Fossil specimens from the Baynunah Formation curated and housed with the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (previously the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage)

LACM:

Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Pa:

Paracone

Prl:

Protoloph

Pr:

Protocone

Hy:

Hypocone

Pol:

Posteroloph

Ml:

Metaloph

Mt:

Metacone

Al:

Anteroloph

Pold:

Posterolophid

Hyd:

Hypoconid

Prd:

Protoconid

Mld:

Metalophulid I

Mtd:

Metaconid

End:

Entoconid

Hyld:

Hypolophid

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by an American Museum of Natural History research fellowship to B.P.K, the Historic Environment Department of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (previously the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage), an International Research Fellowship Award to F.B. (National Science Foundation grant 0852975), the Revealing Hominid Origins Initiative (N.S.F grant BCS-0321893), the Institute international de Paléoprimatologie et Paléontologie humaine (IPHEP), the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-09-BLAN-0238), the Yale Peabody Museum, and a grant from the Yale University President’s Office to A.H. We thank the American Museum of Natural History for use of SEM imaging equipment and D. Gardner of Biologic Environmental Survey, Perth, Australia for use of a camera-mounted scope. M. Fox made casts of specimens for study. A. Al Kaabi, O. Al Kaabi, A.-R. Al Nuaimi, M. Al Neyadi, A. al Hajj, W. A. Omer, W. Yasin, A. Attar, E. Moacdieh, S. Majzoub, K. Zreik, and N. Craig helped screen, pick, and find the fossil specimens.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brian P. Kraatz.

Additional information

Communicated by: Robert J. Asher

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

ESM Fig. S1

Strict consensus trees that a exclude Lavocatomys, b exclude Gaudeamus and c include both Gaudeamus and Lavocatomys (JPEG 654 kb)

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

List of character used in this analysis, based on López Antoñanzas et al. (2004). This character matrix is accessible online at www.morphobank.org (project 896).

dP 4

  1. 1:

    (0) replaced; (1) not replaced. Denotes whether the fourth permanent premolar has a deciduous (milk tooth) precursor. Scored as “?” for Protohummus dango.

  2. 2:

    Anterior cingulum: (0) present; (1) weak or absent. Refers to a minor crest found anterior to the anterior most loph. Scored as absent (1) in Protohummus dango.

  3. 3:

    Metalophulid II: (0) present; (1) absent. Coded for the presence of a fourth loph between that is roughly parallel to the hypolophid and metalophulid I. Also referred to as the posterior arm of the protoconid by other authors. Scored as “1” in Protohummus dango.

  4. 4:

    Metalophulid II: (0) transverse; (1) oblique. Refers to the orientation of the metalophulid II relative to the long axis of the tooth. Scored as absent (0) in Protohummus dango.

  5. 5:

    Hypolophid: (0) posteriorly oblique; (1) transverse; (2) anteriorly oblique – refers to the orientation of the hypolophid relative to the long access of the tooth. Scored as transverse (1) in Protohummus dango

M 1 or M 2

  1. 6:

    Anterolabial cuspid: (0) absent; (1) present. A minor cusp, sometimes found on the anterior and buccal corner of lower molars. Scored as absent (0) in Protohummus dango.

  2. 7:

    Anterolabial cuspid: (0) isolated; (1) partially submerged in crest. Refers to whether the isolate from the anterior portion of the tooth via a saddle, or is found along a continuous crest.

  3. 8:

    Metalophulid II: (0) present; (1) absent. Refers to the presence of a metalophulid II on the first and/or second molars. Scored as absent (0) in Protohummus dango.

  4. 9:

    Mesoflexid: (0) not anteriorly directed; (1) anteriorly directed. Referring to the orientation of the space between the metalophulid I and hypolophid relative to the long axis of the tooth and I. Scored as not anteriorly directed (0) in Protohummus dango.

  5. 10:

    Mesoflexid: (0) equal or longer than the metaflexid; (1) shorter than the metaflexid. Refers to the relative length of the mesoflexid (basin between metalophulid I and hypolophid) and metaflexid (basin between hypolophid and posterolphid). Scored as the mesoflexid equal or longer than the metaflexid (0) in Protohummus dango.

  6. 11:

    Anterolabial cingulum: (0) present; (1) weak or absent. Coded for the presence of an additional, minor cingulum anterior to the metalophulid I. Scored as absent (0) in Protohummus dango.

  7. 12:

    Hypolophid: (0) posteriorly oblique; (1) transverse; (2) anteriorly oblique. Refers to the orientation of the hypolophid to the long axis of the tooth. Scored as transverse (1) in Protohummus dango. Scored as transverse (1) in Protohummus dango.

  8. 13:

    Length: (0) M 1 < M 2; (1) M 1 = M 2; (2) M 1 > M 2. Refers to the relative lengths of the first and second lower molars.

  9. 14:

    Width: (0) M 1 < M 2; (1) M 1 = M 2; (2) M 1 > M 2. Refers to the relative widths of the first and second lower molars.

M 3

  1. 15:

    Length: (0) M 3 > M 2; (1) M 3 < M 2. Refers to the relative lengths of the second and third molars.

  2. 16:

    Anterolabial cingulum: (0) present; (1) weak or absent. Coded for the presence of an additional, minor cingulum anterior to the metalophulid I on the third lower molar.

dI 2

  1. 17:

    Upper incisor grooves: (0) ungrooved upper incisor; (1) one groove (2) two grooves (3) three grooves. Coded for the number of buccal grooves on an upper incisor. Scored as having two grooves (2) in Protohummus dango.

M 1 or M 2

  1. 18:

    Mesoloph: (0) present; (1) absent. Refers to the presence of a loph (often a fourth primary loph), projecting buccally from anterior arm of the hypocone. Scored as absent (1) in Protohummus dango.

  2. 19:

    Length: (0) M 1 < M 2; (1) M 1 = M 2; (2) M 1 > M 2. Refers to the relative lengths of the first and second upper molars.

  3. 20:

    Metaloph: (0) present; (1) absent. Refers to the presence of a metaloph, which projects bucco-anteriorly from the midpoint of the posteroloph. Scored as present (0) in Protohummus dango.

  4. 21:

    Protoloph: (0) transverse; (1) oblique. Refers to the orientation of the protoloph relative to the long-axis of the tooth. Scored as oblique (1) in Protohummus dango.

  5. 22:

    Hypsodonty: (0) low; (1) semihypsodonty; (2) high. Refers to the height of the enamel crowns on the upper teeth. Scored as high (1) in Protohummus dango.

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Kraatz, B.P., Bibi, F., Hill, A. et al. A new fossil thryonomyid from the Late Miocene of the United Arab Emirates and the origin of African cane rats. Naturwissenschaften 100, 437–449 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-013-1043-4

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Keywords

  • Thryonomyidae
  • Baynunah formation
  • Miocene
  • Arabia
  • Africa
  • Asia