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First levantine fossil murines shed new light on the earliest intercontinental dispersal of mice

Abstract : The Murinae represent the largest subfamily of mammals, comprising 656 species and 135 genera1. This group of rodents constitutes one of the most evolutionarily successful clades of mammals, displaying an outstanding diversity, a virtually cosmopolitan distribution and a wide array of feeding preferences. They supposedly originated in the Middle Miocene of southern Asia, as their earliest representatives (Antemus) have been recorded in Siwaliks deposits about 14 Ma of age2–4. However, the full development of the dental pattern seen in modern murines (with three strong chevrons in the M1) was achieved later, with the appearance of Progonomys in Late Miocene deposits of the same area dating 12.4 Ma2–4. Progonomys is probably one of the most important taxa in the history of murine rodents, not only because it was the earliest taxon to acquire the derived dental characters of the crown murines, but also because it was the first modern representative of the group to spread out of southern Asia. Progonomys dispersed from southern Asia to Europe and Africa at the beginning of the Late Miocene (~11 Ma). This dispersal and that of the three-toed horse Hipparion are seen as the two most remarkable Late Miocene events in the history of Old World mammals5. The possible routes and timing of this first murine dispersal have been the subject of hypotheses6–8, which have remained educated guesses in the absence of data from the Arabian area. Fossil material collected during excavations in the summer of 2013 and 2018 in the Upper Miocene of Lebanon provides an opportunity to address this gap in our knowledge. Our fieldworks resulted indeed in the discovery of the first Progonomys from the whole Arabian area, which constitutes the first physical evidence about the dispersal of the earliest murines from southern Asia to Africa through the Levant.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03058996
Contributor : Raquel López-Antoñanzas <>
Submitted on : Saturday, December 12, 2020 - 8:12:26 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 15, 2021 - 2:30:01 PM

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Raquel López-Antoñanzas, Sabrina Renaud, Pablo Pelaez Campomanes, Dany Azar, Georges Kachacha, et al.. First levantine fossil murines shed new light on the earliest intercontinental dispersal of mice. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-47894-y⟩. ⟨hal-03058996⟩

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