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Cenozoic Mammals of Africa$
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Lars Werdelin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257214

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257214.001.0001

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(p.853) Forty-Four Hippopotamidae
Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Eleanor Weston

Jean-Renaud Boisserie

University of California Press

Hippopotamidae is an exclusively Old World taxon that dispersed from Africa to Eurasia on several occasions. The earliest hippopotamids have been found in Kenya dating back to the middle Miocene, and today the family is only represented by two African species, Hippopotamus amphibius and Choeropsis liberiensis. In Africa, hippos are often the most frequently preserved mammals in Neogene fossil assemblages. There has recently been a resurgence of interest in hippopotamid evolution and palaeoecology, following the indication by molecular-based phylogenies that Cetacea form the extant sister group of the Hippopotamidae. This raises the intriguing possibility that the association with a semiaquatic habit is in fact ancient. The origin of hippos has been much debated, with a number of contributions favoring the evolution of hippos from certain anthracotheres based on fossil evidence. Previous work in Africa had mainly focused on fossils from the Turkana Basin and the Western Rift of East Africa. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Hippopotamidae and reviews the recent revisions to African hippopotamid taxonomy and phylogeny.

Keywords:   Africa, paleontology, Hippopotamidae, taxonomy, phylogeny, hippopotamids, hippos, evolution, Hippopotamus amphibius, Choeropsis liberiensis

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