Taxonomic affinities of the enigmatic <i>Prionogale breviceps</i>, early Miocene, Kenya

2017-11-16T13:35:04Z (GMT) by Matthew R. Borths Nancy J. Stevens
<p><i>Prionogale breviceps</i> is a tiny carnivorous mammal from the early Miocene of eastern Africa. Originally, specimens were interpreted as the adult morphology of the taxon. The dentition did not obviously align <i>Prionogale</i> with the carnivorous lineages present in Afro-Arabia during the early Miocene: Hyaenodonta and Carnivora. When <i>Namasector</i> was discovered in Namibia, the small taxa were placed together in Prionogalidae and aligned with Hyaenodonta. In this study, based on comparisons to hyaenodont specimens preserving deciduous dentition, the holotype of <i>Prionogale</i> is reinterpreted as preserving dP3 and dP4. Some of the lower dental specimens attributed to the taxon preserve dp4. The holotype of <i>Namasector</i> also preserves deciduous dental material. A phylogenetic analysis that includes deciduous dental characters for a broader sample of hyaenodonts resolved Prionogalidae as a clade. Understanding of the deciduous dentition of <i>Prionogale</i> allows future analyses to compare homologous morphology, and to explore the environmental factors that shaped carnivorous mammal evolution through the Miocene.</p>