New material of gomphotheres discovered

Feb 05, 2013
Fig.1 Mandible of Gomphotherium wimani in dorsal view (A), lateral view(B) and proximal view (C). Credit: WANG Shiqi

During recent field work in the northwestern China, Dr. WANG Shiqi, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his collaborators discovered a juvenile gomphotheriid mandible in the Neogene strata of the Nanyucun Locality, Wushan County, Gansu Province. Researchers assigned the specimen to Gomphotherium wimani, an extinct gomphothere of proboscidean, as reported in the latest issue of Vertebrata PalAsiatica 2013. The finding provides new data on the morphology of the genus.

Gomphotherium represents a critical intermediate taxon between the ancestral Phiomia and derived elephantoids in the context of proboscidean evolution. It first appeared in Chilga, Ethiopia, eastern Africa during the Late , entered Eurasia by the Early Miocene, and reached North America by the Middle Miocene. During the Early-Middle Miocene, Gomphotherium was widespread throughout Africa and Eurasia, and the genus survived until the Late Miocene in America. Because of its broad distribution and , Gomphotherium is usually considered an index fossil for terrestrial stratigraphic correlations.

The specimen has a deeply weathered surface, but both the left and right p3, dp4, and m1 are completely preserved. Therefore, the most important morphological features of the specimen are clear. The lower p3 is rarely preserved in gomphotheres, and it has not been recovered in any Middle Miocene platybelodont or Early-Middle Miocene choerolophodont.

The cheek teeth show characters that are derived within the genus Gomphotherium, such as anteroposterior compression of lophids associated with wide interlophids, presence of weak posttrite central conules, multiplication of mesoconelets and central conules, and weak cementation. These features are consistent with the diagnosis of G. wimani.

G. wimani was originally discovered in the Middle Miocene of gansu, and the fossiliferous horizon within the Nanyucun exposures that yielded G. wimani can be correlated with strata at neighboring Middle Miocene localities. Therefore, the G. wimani horizon at Nanyucun should be dated to the Middle Miocene.

In combination with palynological data, the discovery of G. wimani at the Nanyucun Locality implies that the paleoenvironment of the Tianshui area in the Middle Miocene was probably relatively warm and humid, suitable for large populations of brachyodont mammals such as gomphotheres.

Explore further: Changing dinosaur tracks spurs novel approach

More information: www.ivpp.cas.cn/cbw/gjzdwxb/xbwzxz/201301/t20130131_3759370.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

15 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...