Two rare hipparion species found from pliocene deposits of inner Mongolia

June 13, 2011
Fig1: Lower cheek teeth and canine of Hipparion insperatum from Gaotege locality Credit: PANG Li-Bo

Pang Li-Bo, a graduate student paleontologist from Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, identified two rare species of Hipparion- Hipparion (Baryhipparion) insperatum and Hipparion (Plesiohipparion) huangheense, from Pliocene sediments at the Gaotege locality, Inner Mongolia, as reported in the latest issue of Vertebrata PalAsiatic 2011, indicating they are much widely distributed than thought before and providing new materials for studies on paleobiogeography.

The Gaotege locality is about 70 km southwest of Xilinhot and 33 km northeast of Tsagan Nor in Abag Qi (Banner) of central Inner Mongolia.

Hipparion (Greek, "pony") resembled the modern horse. It is an extinct genus of Tertiary allied to the horse, but three-toed, having on each foot a small lateral hoof on each side of the main central one. It is believed to be one of the ancestral genera of the Horse family, living in North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa during the Miocene through .

H. insperatum is the largest Hipparion currently known in China. Materials reported previously were few in number and found only from Yushe, Shanxi. The new materials from Gaotege can be identified as H. insperatum because they have the typical characters of this species: processus intermaxillaris very prominent, canine robust with well-developed anterior and posterior “wings”, comparatively low crown, double knot of lower cheek teeth relatively round, ectoflexid penetrates deeply into the isthmus on premolars, labial wall strongly convex. The most similar species to H. insperatum is H. tchikoicum, but the ectoflexid in the latter does not penetrate into the isthmus on premolars and the size of the teeth is also smaller than that of H. insperatum.

Fig 2: Lower cheek teeth of Hipparion huangheense from Gaotege locality Credit: PANG Li-Bo

H. huangheense is a large-sized hipparionine species, only known from Pucheng, Shaanxi Province and Yushe, Shanxi Province, and previously reported materials are all lower jaws. The materials collected from Gaotege locality are all lower cheek teeth and hypsodont with slight wear, so they probably belong to young individuals. They are identified as H. huangheense based on these diagnostic characters of H. huangheense: double knot houfenoid pattern and elongate lengthwise, lingual flexid wide, ectoflexid wide and shallow opening towards anterolateral side, postflexid and preflexid symmetrical, pli caballinid developed, pli hypostylid weak. The most similar species to H. huangheense is H. houfenense, but its protoconid and hypoconid have flat labial walls, its pli antecaballinid is more developed so that the ectoflexid opens towards posterolateral side.

The specimens of H. insperatum are collected from the lower bed which is estimated to be 4.34 Million years ago and those of H. huangheense are collected from the upper bed which is about 3.9 Million years ago based on paleomagnetic dating at the Gaotege locality. “The younger is clearly higher-crowned than the older one”, said Pang, “This may be related to their different diets, and the chronological order of their appearance may indicate the process of environment drying and grassland expansion in the Pliocene in central Inner Mongolia.”

Explore further: New species of Nannocricetus found in Damiao of Nei Mongol

Related Stories

New species of Nannocricetus found in Damiao of Nei Mongol

June 10, 2011

Dr. Zhang Zhao-Qun, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues, recently described a new cricetid species of Late Miocene, Nannocricetus wuae, from the locality ...

New leuciscin fish found in northern China

June 2, 2011

SU De-Zao, a retired paleoichthyologist of Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, found a new paleogene leuciscin fish, Tianshanicus liui sp. nov., in the Anjihaihe Formation ...

Tiny teeth are new mouse species, a rare 'living fossil'

May 24, 2011

( -- Tiny fossil teeth discovered in Inner Mongolia are a new species of birch mouse, indicating that ancestors of the small rodent are much older than previously reported, according to paleontologist Yuri Kimura, ...

New Eosauropterygian found in Eastern Yunnan, China

June 1, 2011

The marine Triassic deposits in southwestern China have yielded numerous vertebrate fossils (ichthyosaurians, sauropterygians, thalattosaurians, and fishes). A new eosauropterygian, Diandongosaurus acutidentatus gen. et sp. ...

Oldest-known black carp found in Mongolian plateau

June 23, 2010

Dr. Pingfu Chen, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Gloria Arratia at the Biodiversity Research Center of the University of Kansas, described an oldest-known black ...

New captorhinid reptile found in China

May 23, 2011

A new captorhinid reptile, Gansurhinus qingtoushanensis, gen. et sp. nov., was found from Xidagou Formation (Middle Permian) at Qingtoushan (Dashankou) locality near Yumen, Gansu Province, and from Naobaogou Formation (Late ...

Recommended for you

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.