Friday, November 03, 2006
Ann Arbor, Michigan: A pig-sized, tusked creature that roamed the earth some 27 million years ago represents a missing link between the oldest known relatives of elephants and the more recent group from which modern elephants descended, an international team that includes University of Michigan paleontologist William J. Sanders (homepage) has found.
The group's findings, to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggest that mastodons and the ancestors of elephants originated in Africa, in contrast to mammals such as rhinos, giraffes and antelopes, which had their origins in Europe and Asia and migrated into Africa. The dating of the new fossil, discovered in the East African country of Eritrea, also pushes the origins of elephants and mastodons five million years farther into the past than previous records, Sanders said.
Continued at "Fossil Is Missing Link in Elephant Lineage"
Based on the paper "A proboscidean from the late Oligocene of Eritrea, a "missing link" between early Elephantiformes and Elephantimorpha, and biogeographic implications" (Abstract)
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