Chapter

Camelidae

John M. Harris, Denis Geraads and Nikos Solounias

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/9780520257214.003.0041
Camelidae

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Camels originated in North America in the middle Eocene (Uintan land mammal age) and the first 36 million years of their history is confined to that continent. They were a highly successful group in which some 95 species and thirty-six genera were distributed between five subfamilies: Stenomylinae, Floridatragulinae, Miolabinae, Protolabinae, and Camelinae, although McKenna and Bell (1997) also recognize Poebrodontinae, Poebrotheriinae, Pseudolabinae, and Aepycamelinae. The main radiation of this family took place in the Miocene, during which time at least thirteen genera and twenty species were distributed over much of North America. Camelid generic diversity declined during the late Miocene, although camelids remained common elements of the North American biota until the late Pleistocene extinction event. Only the camelins (Camelinae) are known to have migrated into the Old World. Domesticated dromedaries occur today throughout North Africa, the largest populations being in Somalia and Sudan. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Camelidae.

Keywords: Camelidae; paleontology; camels; Eocene; Miocene; camelids; camelins; dromedaries; North Africa; Pseudolabinae

Chapter.  5433 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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