An international team of researchers has announced the discovery of new fossils from the highlands of Ethiopia. The fossils fill a long-standing gap in scientists understanding of the evolution of African mammals. The results are reported in this weeks issue of the journal Nature.
Image: An example of the genus Arsinoitherium, a large mammal of the Oligocene epoch (approximately 24-34 million years ago), with an average-sized modern man shown for scale.
Caption: A new species of Arsinoitherium found in the Chilga region of Ethiopia is both the largest (probably standing ~7 feet at the shoulder) and the youngest (approximately 27 million years old) yet discovered. An average-sized modern man is shown for scale. Credit: Trent Schindler / National Science Foundation
The team is composed of researchers from several U.S. universities, including the University of Texas, Washington University, and the University of Michigan, as well as Addis Ababa University and the National Museum, both in Ethiopia. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture.
"The work of this team continues to reveal the extremely rich fossil record encased in East Africas rocks," says Rich Lane, program director in NSFs division of earth sciences, which funded the research. "It also sheds light on the role pre-modern animals played in establishing the worldwide distribution of mammals today."
Cheryl Dybas | NSF
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