Primitive Ungulates (“Condylarthra” and Stem Paenungulata)

Emmanuel Gheerbrant

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:
Primitive Ungulates (“Condylarthra” and Stem Paenungulata)

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Africa is probably the most poorly known paleobiogeographic province in the evolutionary history of the primitive ungulates collectively called “Condylarthra.” This is related to the more general problem of the very poor fossil record of mammals in the early Paleogene of Africa. The few described African condylarths have been found in the Paleocene and early Eocene of Morocco, and in the middle Eocene of Senegal. The best-preserved condylarth material comes from the Ouled Abdoun Basin, Morocco. “Hyopsodontids” and phenacodonts have been especially advanced as potential stem groups of the endemic modern ungulates of Africa. The most robust current hypotheses involve a probable Laurasian “hyopsodontid” origin for the macroscelideans. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of primitive ungulates (“Condylarthra” and stem Paenungulata) and follows Archibald's (1998) systematics of condylarths, with the Zack et al. (2005b) emendations for the “Hyopsodontidae,” “Mioclaenidae,” and Apheliscidae. “Mioclaenidae” is considered a junior synonym of Hyopsodontidae, and includes Mioclaeninae, Kollpaniinae, Pleuraspidotheriinae, and Hyopsodontinae, which is restricted to Hyopsodus. Classical “Hyopsodontidae” are referred to Apheliscidae, which includes Apheliscinae, Louisininae and several genera incertae sedis.

Keywords: Africa; primitive ungulates; Condylarthra; Paenungulata; paleontology; condylarths; hyopsodontids; phenacodonts; Mioclaenidae; Apheliscidae

Chapter.  6299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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