Chapter

Hyracoidea

D. Tab Rasmussen and Mercedes Gutiérrez

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/9780520257214.003.0013
Hyracoidea

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In the first decade of the twentieth century, British zoologist Charles Andrews described new fossil mammals from Egypt that demonstrated Africa had once harbored an archaic, endemic fauna very different from the continent's modern mammal communities. This fauna, we now know, characterized much or all of the continent during the early Tertiary, a time when Africa was isolated from Eurasia by the Tethys Sea. The order Hyracoidea was a central component of this endemic fauna, a startling realization given the inauspicious nature of the living hyraxes, which today include only a few small species in three genera. The African fossil record reveals dozens of hyracoids that ranged in size from that of small rabbits upward to that of modern Sumatran rhinos. Hyracoids have played an important role in studies of mammalian evolution owing to their relation to elephants. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Hyracoidea.

Keywords: Hyracoidea; paleontology; mammals; elephants; hyraxes; hyracoids; rabbits; rhinos; evolution

Chapter.  18465 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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