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Frost S.R.,University of Oregon | Jablonski N.G.,Pennsylvania State University | Haile-Selassie Y.,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2014

A large series of fossil cercopithecids has been recovered from the hominid-bearing Woranso-Mille site, Afar State, northeastern Ethiopia. Here we report the taxonomy of those specimens from the Am-Ado, Aralee Issie, Korsi Dora, Makah Mera, and Mesgid Dora collection areas, which are all roughly contemporaneous and dated to between 3.6 and 3.8 million years ago. This series includes a minimum of two cercopithecine and three colobine species. Theropithecus oswaldi cf. darti is by far the most common species in the assemblage, making up over 90% of identifiable cercopithecid specimens. There is also at least one other species of papionin, which cannot be currently assigned to a genus. The colobines are here allocated to Cercopithecoides cf. meaveae and two other species, one small and one large, that cannot be currently assigned to genus.The T.oswaldi cf. darti series from Woranso-Mille is both the earliest and largest identified to date. It documents the earliest occurrence of the T.oswaldi lineage and strongly suggests that parallel evolution of molar morphology has occurred within the genus between T.oswaldi and Theropithecus brumpti. Given the dominance of monkeys at Woranso-Mille, and the preponderance of Theropithecus among cercopithecids, T.o. cf. darti is likely to be the most common mammal present at the 3.6-3.8 million-years-old localities of the Woranso-Mille study area. Some explanations for this unusual occurrence are explored, and implications for the paleoenvironment at Woranso-Mille are also discussed. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Werdelin L.,Swedish Museum of Natural History | Lewis M.E.,The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey | Haile-Selassie Y.,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Journal of Mammalian Evolution | Year: 2014

The Woranso-Mille paleontological study area, located in the central Afar region of Ethiopia, is one of the most important Pliocene sites in eastern Africa. Since the Woranso-Mille Research Project began its investigation in 2005, more than 7,500 mammalian fossils, including hominins, have been collected from 80 vertebrate localities. This paper provides a preliminary assessment of the Woranso-Mille carnivoran record, a record that is of great interest given the high level of species richness of African carnivorans during the middle Pliocene. Craniodental and postcranial material of canids, lutrine mustelids, viverrids, herpestids, machairodontine and feline felids, and hyaenids has been recovered. Thus, this diverse fauna includes not only the largest carnivorans from this time period (e.g., Enhydriodon and Homotherium), but also some of the smallest, including mongooses, civets, genets, and felids, some of which represent new species. However, the diversity of small taxa does not yet approach that found in the roughly contemporaneous Upper Laetolil Beds of Tanzania. In contrast, lutrine mustelids are better represented at Woranso-Mille than at Kanapoi (Kenya) or Laetoli (Tanzania), which is to be expected given the diversity of habitats represented at these sites. While more material from these sites and others are necessary to truly understand the increased diversity within the early to middle Pliocene eastern African carnivoran guild, it is clear that the material from Woranso-Mille has the potential to fill many of the gaps in our knowledge of carnivorans during this time period. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Redmond B.G.,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History | McDonald H.G.,National Park Service | Greenfield H.J.,University of Manitoba | Burr M.L.,Firelands Historical Society
World Archaeology | Year: 2012

The nature and extent of early human exploitation of late Pleistocene mega-mammals of North America have been vigorously debated; however, direct evidence of predation has been established for a small number of taxa. Until now, evidence of butchering and human utilization of ground sloths has been limited to South America. Osteological and taphonomic analyses of one curated collection of Jefferson's Ground Sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) from northern Ohio, USA, have identified possible butchering marks on one femur. Historical research determined that the skeletal remains were originally recovered from a bog prior to 1915. Metric assessment of the ten skeletal elements identified this sloth as one of the largest individuals on record. SEM analysis of the left femur documented forty-one stone-tool marks, and their pattern and location indicate the filleting of leg muscles. XAD-purified bone collagen from the femur returned an AMS 14C radiocarbon age of 11,740±35 bp (13,738 to 13,435 cal. bp), which is as much as 700 years older than the calculated maximum age for Clovis. Although diminished somewhat by the lack of primary provenience data, these results offer significant evidence for late Pleistocene human exploitation of this North American taxon. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Haile-Selassie Y.,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History | Haile-Selassie Y.,Case Western Reserve University | Simpson S.W.,Case Western Reserve University
Journal of Mammalian Evolution | Year: 2013

Kolpochoerus (Mammalia: Suidae) is a suine genus represented by a number of species from Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa. While the general trends in Kolpochoerus evolution are broadly known, gaps in the fossil record preclude an understanding of the details of its evolutionary tempo and mode. Here, we describe a new species, Kolpochoerus millensis, based on new fossil material from the Woranso-Mille and Gona sites in the Central Afar region of Ethiopia and dated to 3.5-3.8 million years ago (Ma). Third molars of K. millensis are metrically and morphologically intermediate between the early Pliocene K. deheinzelini and earliest late Pliocene K. afarensis. It appears that K. deheinzelini, K. millensis, and K. afarensis are temporally disjunct and phenetically distinguishable parts of a single evolving lineage. The recognition of these chronospecies provides additional evidence for anagenetic evolution. It demonstrates clearly the presence of transitional forms in the fossil record. The extensive and well-dated Kolpochoerus fossil record serves as one of the best documented examples of the occurrence of phyletic evolution. Moreover, K. millensis is one of the best biochronological markers in eastern Africa for the time between 3.5 and 3.8 Ma. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Sanders W.J.,University of Michigan | Haile-Selassie Y.,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History | Haile-Selassie Y.,Case Western Reserve University
Journal of Mammalian Evolution | Year: 2012

Recent fieldwork at Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia led to the recovery of an abundant, diverse mammalian fauna that includes remains of the early hominid Australopithecus afarensis. Proboscideans are among the taxa well sampled at the site, primarily by gnathodental specimens, dated to the mid-Pliocene interval of 3. 8-3. 6 Ma. These fossils document traces of the last anancine gomphotheres (Anancus ultimus) in eastern Africa and several elephant taxa. Comparative study of the elephant fossils indicates the presence of cf. Mammuthus sp. "Hadar-type," cf. Elephas ekorensis, E. recki brumpti, and cf. Loxodonta adaurora adaurora. Proboscidean evolution in the mid-Pliocene is interesting because during this time archaic elephants were completely replaced by basal members of crown elephant lineages, taxonomic diversity was high (multiple elephant species, anancine gomphotheres, stegodonts, and deinotheres), and elephants were undergoing substantial reorganization of the craniodental masticatory apparatus, presumably in response to the spread of more open habitats and greater competition for grazing resources. The Woranso-Mille sample is important because this interval is only represented elsewhere in eastern Africa by a small number of sites, and because adaptive diversification among early crown elephants requires greater clarification. Morphometric contrasts among the fossil dentition from Woranso-Mille presage the differential success of elephant lineages in eastern Africa during the Pleistocene, providing hints about the beginnings of competitive displacement. Differences between E. recki brumpti from Woranso-Mille and the slightly younger Sidi Hakoma Member of the Hadar Formation reveal the beginnings of continuous, directional morphometric change that characterized the lineage. Reconsideration of E. recki subspecies indicates that they are arbitrary lineage divisions tied to geochronological boundaries (with utility for biochronological correlation at well sampled sites) rather than real phylogenetic entities, but does not reject monophyly or anagenetic evolution of the lineage. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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