SUPERCOHORT AFROTHERIA – AFRICAN MAMMALS
- Elephants (Prodoscidea)
- Manatees and dudongs (Sirenia)
- Hyraxes (Hyracoidea)
- Aadwark (Tubulidentata)
- Sengis (Macroscelidea)
- Golden-moles (Chrysochloridae)
- Tenrecs and otter-screws (Tenrecidae or Afrosoricida)
Afrotherian radiation that at the moment contains the orders (Hyracoidea, Sirenia and Proboscidea).
These are hyraxes, manatees and dudongs and elephants.
From Paleocene (66-56 ma), next 35 million years paenungulates dominated Africa’s large mammal fauna. They were herbivores: hyracoids, proboscideans and the extinct embrithopods.
Other mammals arrived from Eurasia and became more common about 25 mya.
Currently there are about 78 species of extant afrotheres. Most species are specialists.
Many have ecologically convergent forms on other continents.
This ecological specialization makes them vulnerable and prone to extinction in human modified world.
Re-evaluation is needed on the evidence on the morphological features that has been used as evidence for monophyly of Paenungulates.
However following features are most commonly used as evidence:
- Female mammary glands between front legs
- Tusks developed from incisors, rather than canines
- Males testes within the abdomen
- Resemblance in dentition and foot structure
Key references: Kingdon, J. Seiffert, E. Hedges, B. & Rathbun, G. (2013) Supercohort Afrotheria. In: Mammals of Africa. Bloomsbury. London