Martin Pickford

Stratigraphy, chronology and palaeontology of the Tertiary rocks of the Cheringoma Plateau, Mozambique

Abstract

The discovery of fossil plants, marine molluscs and mammals in the Mazamba Formation, Cheringoma Plateau, Mozambique, opens a new chapter in the study of this part of the African Rift System. The evidence suggests that the Mazamba Formation is older than previously reported, probably late Eocene rather than Miocene. The fossil wood and stems indicate a frost-free tropical humid environment and a high water table soon after deposition, and the marine molluscs and mammals indicate proximity to the sea. There is also evidence for the occurrence of pans in the area during the late Eocene which also suggest a near-surface water table.
This paper discusses the history of interpretation of the geology of the Cheringoma Plateau and describes and interprets the fossil plants, molluscs and mammals collected in 2012 and 2013. It is concluded that the Mazamba Formation, which overlies the fully marine Lutetian-Bartonian Cheringoma Limestone, is a coastal facies (fluvio-deltaic, lagoonal and onshore deposits) that accumulated on top of the marine limestones as sea level dropped late in the Bartonian. Mammalian bones from the White Patch sites represent a heavily built species about the dimensions of a pygmy hippopotamus, probably belonging to the order Embrithopoda. If so, then the Mazamba Formation is likely to correlate to the latest Bartonian or early Priabonian rather than to the Miocene as previously assumed.

Key words

stratigraphy, biochronology, depositional environments, Cheringoma Plateau, East African Rift System, palaeontology

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New suoid fossils (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from the Miocene of Moghara, Egypt, and Gebel Zelten, Libya: biochronological implications

Abstract

Some undescribed suoid specimens from early and middle Miocene deposits at Moghara, Egypt, and Gebel Zelten, Libya, are of interest for biochronology. The fossils comprise maxillae and mandibles with incomplete dentitions, which are described and illustrated in detail. Three species of suids and one sanithere occur at Moghara. A huge edentulous suid mandible was collected at Gebel Zelten in 1997 during the Spanish-Libyan Palaeontology Expedition. In January, 2020, additional sanithere fossils were collected from Moghara by a team from Cairo University and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris. A suid mandible with four teeth collected from Moghara in 1994, and now curated at the Cairo Geological Museum, confirms the presence of the species Libycochoerus massai at the site, previously represented by an isolated upper molar and two canines. A talus previously thought to be from Moghara is now known to have been collected at Wadi Natrun (late Miocene) and thus probably represents a tetraconodont rather than a kubanochoere. The age of the Moghara deposits is estimated to span the period ca. 19.5–16.5 Ma (late early Miocene, Faunal Sets PII–PIIIa) and the Zelten sequence is most likely to span the period ca. 17–14.5 Ma (late early Miocene to basal middle Miocene, Faunal Sets PIIIa–PIIIb).

Key words

Suoidea, early Miocene, middle Miocene, biochronology, North Africa

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Small early Miocene listriodont suid (Artiodactyla: Mammalia) from Sabuncubeli (Manisa, SW Anatolia), Turkey

Abstract

Turkey is known for the wealth of fossil suids found in deposits of middle Miocene, late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene levels but material of this family from early Miocene and Palaeogene deposits is rare in the country, one of the few published occurrences being from Şemsettin (Kumartaş Formation, MN 4, Çankiri-Çorum Basin). For this reason, it is interesting to record the presence of small suid remains in the Soma Formation at Sabuncubeli (Manisa, SW Anatolia) in deposits correlated to MN 3 (early Miocene) and thus the earliest known Turkish members of the family. The upper and lower teeth are herein attributed to a new genus and species (Prolistriodon smyrnensis) of Listriodontinae because, in a nascent way, they show a suite of derived morphological features such as upper central incisors with apical sulci, and upper molars with lingual precrista, found in listriodonts but not in Kubanochoerinae, Palaeochoerinae, Tetracondontinae, Hyotheriinae, Namachoerinae, Cainochoerinae or Suinae.

Key words

Suidae, Turkey, early Miocene, Artiodactyla, Listriodontinae, Prolistriodon smyrnensis gen. et sp. nov., derived characters, folivory, omnivory

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Listriodon skull from the late middle Miocene of Nebisuyu (Çanakkale – MN 8) Turkey

Abstract

The late middle Miocene (MN 8) sediments at Nebisuyu, in the southwestern extremity of the Gelibolu Peninsula, Turkey, yielded remains of a large individual of Listriodon splendens: a skull lacking the premaxillae but containing both cheek tooth rows, and a detached left maxilla fragment containing a canine. The material evidently represents a male individual on the basis of the large dimensions of the canine, an inference borne out by the presence of a horn-like protuberance on the thickened frontal bones. The dentition is typical of the large “subspecies” Listriodon splendens major Roman, 1907. The presence of an ossicone suggests that head-to-head combat was an aspect of the behaviour of Listriodon, just as it is in several extant suid taxa. The Nebisuyu discovery extends the geographic distribution of the subspecies well to the east of its previously known range.

Key words

Listriodontinae, biogeography, behaviour, sexual selection, ossicone

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