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First Miocene rodent from Lebanon provides the 'missing link' between Asian and African gundis (Rodentia: Ctenodactylidae)

Abstract : 5 Ctenodactylinae (gundis) is a clade of rodents that experienced, in Miocene time, their greatest diversification and widest distribution. They expanded from the Far East, their area of origin, to Africa, which they entered from what would become the Arabian Peninsula. Questions concerning the origin of African Ctenodactylinae persist essentially because of a poor fossil record from the Miocene of Afro-Arabia. However, recent excavations in the Late Miocene of Lebanon have yielded a key taxon for our understanding of these issues. Proafricanomys libanensis nov. gen. nov. sp. shares a variety of dental characters with both the most primitive and derived members of the subfamily. A cladistic analysis demonstrates that this species is the sister taxon to a clade encompassing all but one of the African ctenodactylines, plus a southern European species of obvious African extraction. As such, Proafricanomys provides the 'missing link' between the Asian and African gundis. The Ctenodactylinae is a subgroup of the Ctenodactylidae (Ctenohystrica) that likely appeared around the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. These unique animals have since experienced a remarkable evolution involving both a shift in habitats (from moist to arid) and distribution (from Asia to Africa). Our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships within the clade has been recently much improved
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Raquel López-Antoñanzas, Fabien Knoll, Sibelle Maksoud, Dany Azar. First Miocene rodent from Lebanon provides the 'missing link' between Asian and African gundis (Rodentia: Ctenodactylidae). Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2015, 5 (12871), ⟨10.1038/srep12871⟩. ⟨insu-01235787⟩

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