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Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 179–199 | Cite as

Newly Discovered Crania of Nyanzachoerus jaegeri (Tetraconodontinae, Suidae, Mammalia) from the Woranso-Mille (Ethiopia) and Reappraisal of Its Generic Status

  • Hailay G. Reda
  • Ignacio A. Lazagabaster
  • Yohannes Haile-SelassieEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Suids are among the most common mammalian groups in the Plio-Pleistocene vertebrate fossil record of Africa and the most studied largely due to their significance as biochronological indicators. However, despite their abundance in the fossil record, the remains are mostly isolated teeth and fragmentary crania and mandibles. As a result, disagreements have persisted in terms of their taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships. Here, we present for the first time a detailed description of the cranial anatomy of Nyanzachoerus jaegeri based on two crania recovered from middle Pliocene deposits of the Woranso-Mille paleontological study area, Afar region, Ethiopia. Understanding the cranial morphology of this species is particularly significant given the recent reclassification of Nyanzachoerus jaegeri to the genus Notochoerus based largely on the incisor and symphyseal morphology of specimens from Kanapoi, Kenya. Here, we show that the two genera are clearly distinguished from each other by distinct morphological features of the cranium such as the shape of the braincase, orientation of the zygomatic arches, and premolar/molar ratio, among others. Furthermore, we show that the mandibular and dental morphological features identified by some workers as characteristic of Notochoerus are variable among tetraconodont species and that Nyanzachoerus jaegeri best fits within the genus Nyanzachoerus.

Keywords

Notochoerus Nyanzachoerus jaegeri Woranso-Mille Middle Pliocene Ethiopia Taxonomy Suidae 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Ethiopian government and the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia for permission to conduct field and laboratory research; Tomas Getachew, SahleSelassie Melaku, and Getahun Tekle for their assistance in accessing the original Woranso-Mille and Hadar fossil materials housed on the grounds of the National Museum of Ethiopia; and the Afar people of the Woranso-Mille area for their support in the field. We would like to also thank Editor-in-Chief John R. Wible and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and edits. This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to YHS (# BCS-1124705). HGR would like to thank the Paleontological Scientific Trust (PAST) for financial support. IAL would like to thank Obra Social Fundacion La Caixa for financial support.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physical Anthropology, Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Anthropology, Anatomy, Cognitive Sciences, and BiologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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