Chapter

Embrithopoda

William J. Sanders, D. Tab Rasmussen and John Kappelman

in Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257214
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945425 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257214.003.0012
Embrithopoda

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Embrithopoda is represented in the Afro-Arabian fossil record by Arsinoitherium and Namatherium. Physically impressive, Arsinoitherium superficially resembled extant rhinos in the ornamentation of its cranium by massive, protuberant horns, and by the great magnitude of its skeletal frame. Arsinoitheres were endemic to Afro-Arabia during the middle Eocene through late Oligocene and are best known from the Fayum, Egypt. The last known occurrence of embrithopods was at Lothidok, Kenya, of latest Oligocene age. Conflicting ideas about embrithopod relationships have been addressed by recent morphologic and phylogenetic analyses. These studies reaffirm Simpson's (1945) earlier classification of arsinoitheres (and, by extension, Embrithopoda) in Paenungulata, with proboscideans, sirenians, desmostylians, and hyraxes. Nonetheless, debate continues about whether arsinoitheres are more closely related to proboscideans, sirenians, or are a more distant sister taxon to tethytheres. Molecular analyses of extant taxa suggest that paenungulates belong with elephant shrews, African insectivorans, and aardvarks in the clade Afrotheria, whose modern biogeography is largely African. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Embrithopoda.

Keywords: Embrithopoda; paleontology; Arsinoitherium; Namatherium; rhinos; arsinoitheres; Eocene; Oligocene; Egypt; Paenungulata

Chapter.  5018 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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