Chapter

Systematics of Endemic African Mammals

Robert J. Asher and Erik R. Seiffert

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/9780520257214.003.0046
Systematics of Endemic African Mammals

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Shortly after the death of his coauthor, C. F. Sonntag, Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark published a collaborative monograph on the anatomy and relationships of the aardvark, Orycteropus afer. They argued that aardvarks should be placed beside the Hyracoidea and Proboscidea. This conclusion differed considerably from those given in other treatments of Orycteropus during most of the twentieth century. To varying degrees, a similar history can be traced for two other groups of African mammals: sengis (elephant shrews) and golden moles. Africa is home to a number of diverse, endemic radiations besides Afrotheria, including cetartiodactyls (bovids, hippopotamids, giraffids), primates (strepsirrhines, catarrhine anthropoids), rodents (bathyergids, thryonomyids, anomalurids, pedetids), and carnivorans (Malagasy euplerines). However, these groups do not share a common ancestry with one another to the exclusion of other mammals. This chapter explores the systematics and fossil history of endemic African mammals that share a unique bond of phylogenetic history, fully appreciated only during the last ten years, and that comprise one of the most novel hypotheses of animal classification since 1758.

Keywords: Orycteropus afer; aardvarks; Hyracoidea; Proboscidea; mammals; Africa; systematics; classification; Afrotheria; sengis

Chapter.  15695 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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