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Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 465–476 | Cite as

Lartetium africanum (Lavocat, 1961) (Eulipotyphla · Soricidae) from Beni-Mellal (Morocco), the oldest African shrew: new descriptions, palaeoenvironment and comments on biochronological context

  • Marguerite Hugueney
  • Olivier MaridetEmail author
  • Pierre Mein
  • Cécile Mourer-Chauviré
  • Jérôme Priéto
Original Paper

Abstract

Additional specimens of the poorly known African shrew Lartetium africanum (Lavocat, 1961) are described and complete our knowledge of this tiny animal. The results of this study justify the elevation of material originally described as a subspecies to the species rank. Soricids are hitherto unknown in older African localities. Like many other soricids, L. africanum lived in a rather humid habitat, close to a body of freshwater, as testified by the intercalations of travertines with reeds in the lacustrine lenses that yielded the fauna. However, the presence of associated vertebrate taxa also attest to more open environments in the surroundings and a tropical climate. Various hypotheses on the date of arrival of this taxon in Africa have been proposed since migration routes between Eurasia and Afro-Arabia were not always open during the Middle Miocene and also because magnetostratigraphic data are now known and can be compared. These hypotheses are discussed here. Recent advances in our knowledge of the palaeogeography and the comparison of L. africanum with western European Lartetium taxa suggest that Beni-Mellal could be older than previously proposed, possibly early Middle Miocene.

Keywords

Eulipotyphla Soricidae Crocidosoricinae Middle Miocene Northern Africa Morocco Faunal exchanges Palaeoenvironment 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to have been invited to contribute to this issue and as such in being given the opportunity to honour our friend and colleague Albert van der Meulen in recognition of his highly valuable palaeontological studies. We thank D. Topa (Natural History Museum Vienna) for assistance in taking the scanning electron microscopy pictures. Gertrud Rössner (Munich) and Reinhard Ziegler (Stuttgart) are thanked for making available the Lartetium material under their care. G. Billet (MNHN Paris) is thanked for providing information on the holotype of L. africanum. Glyn Thoiron also kindly helped improve the English text. We also thank two referees, Raquel López-Antoñanzas (University of Bristol) and Marc Furió (Institut Català de Paleontologia), and the guest editors of this issue, who contributed to this work through instructive discussions and comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marguerite Hugueney
    • 1
  • Olivier Maridet
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Pierre Mein
    • 1
  • Cécile Mourer-Chauviré
    • 1
  • Jérôme Priéto
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon: Terre, Planètes et Environnement, UMR 5276Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1Villeurbanne CedexFrance
  2. 2.Jurassica MuseumPorrentruySwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Geosciences, Earth SciencesUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department for Earth and Environmental sciencesLudwig-Maximilian University Munich and Bavarian State Collections for Paleontology and GeologyMunichGermany

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