Volume 37 2001

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    Palaeontologia africana Volume 37
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2001)
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    New evidence of the Giant Hyaena, Pachycrocuta brevirostris (Carnivora, Hyaenidae), from the Gladysvale Cave deposit (Plio-pleistocene, John Nash Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa)
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2001) Mutter, Raoul J; Berger, Lee R; Schmid, Peter
    A well preserved cranium which represents the most complete skull of Pachycrocuta brevirostris (Carnivora, Hyaenidae) discovered in Africa, and a maxillary fragment from the Gladysvale Cave Deposit (John Nash Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa) are described and compared to other fossil and extant hyaenid specimens from South Africa and Europe. In addition, some aspects of functional morphology in the hyaenid dentition are reconsidered and suggested to be directly related to the palaeoecological role of P. brevirostris.
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    Locomotor and habitat classifications of cercopithecoid postcranial material from Sterkfontein Member 4, Bolt's Farm and Swartkrans Members 1 and 2, South Africa
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2001) Elton, Sarah
    Much southern African cercopithecoid postcranial material is not associated with craniodental remains. Consequently, this postcranial material cannot be confidently assigned to a particular taxon, with the result that little is known about the locomotor strategies and habitat preferences of specific Plio-Pleistocene cercopithecoids from southern Africa. However, cercopithecoid postcrania can provide important information about habitats that were present at fossil sites, even when the material is not attributed to taxa. In this paper, ecomorphic analysis is used to assign cercopithecoid postcranial material from Sterkfontein Member 4, Bolt's Farm and Swartkrans Members 1 and 2 to one of three habitat/locomotor categories: forest-living arboreal quadrupeds (‘forest arboreal'), open habitat terrestrial quadrupeds (‘open terrestrial') and open habitat cercopithecoids using a mix of arboreal and terrestrial quadrupedalism (‘open mixed'). Cercopithecoids representing all three habitat categories were found in the samples from Sterkfontein Member 4 and Bolt' s Farm, suggesting that monkeys using a range of habitats and locomotor strategies were present at these sites. However, no 'forest arboreal' cercopithecoids were found in the samples from Swartkrans Members 1 and 2, indicating that cercopithecoids at these localities probably depended largely on open habitats. The habitat and locomotor strategy data were also used in combination with locality-based listings of fossil cercopithecoid craniodental remains to suggest possible locomotor strategies for several southern African Plio-Pleistocene cercopithecoid taxa, including Parapapio broomi (possibly 'forest arboreal'), Parapapio jonesi (‘open terrestrial'), Papio robinsoni (‘open terrestrial') and Cercopithecoides williamsi (‘open mixed').
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    New Viverrinae (Carnivora: Mammalia) from the basal Middle Miocene of Arrisdrift, Namibia
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2001) Morales, Jorge; Pickford, Martin; Soria, Dolores; Fraile, Susan
    A new genus and species of viverrid of modern type, Orangic!is gariepensis, is described from the basal Middle Miocene locality of Arrisdrift in southern Namibia. It is the earliest known representative of the subfamily Viverrinae from Africa. Detailed examination of the mongoose-like carnivores of the early Miocene of Africa, hitherto all assigned to the family Viverridae, reveals that none of them are related to this group.
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    Cranial anatomy of the giant Middle Triassic temnospondyl Cherninia megarhina and a review of feeding in mastodonsaurids
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2001) Damiani, Ross J
    The skull of Cherninia (,Parotosuchus') megarhina, a giant but poorly known mastodonsaurid temnospondyl from the Upper Horizon of the Middle Triassic N'tawere Formation of the Upper Luangwa Valley, Zambia, is redescribed and refigured in detail for the first time. Cherninia megarhina is highly derived in most aspects of its cranial morphology and is characterised by the presence of a massively broad and elongated snout, relatively tiny orbits that are set well back on the skull roof, small, near-laterally directed tabular horns, an occipital sensory sulcus, and prominent, forked ridges on the skull roof. The palate is characterised by the presence of a ventral exoccipital-pterygoid contact, a short basicranial suture, a narrow parasphenoid body, a broad pterygoid body, and choanae that are placed far forward of the interpterygoid vacuities. The presence in Cherninia megarhina of numerous cranial autapomorphies justifies its separation from Parotosuchus. These autapomorphies are shared with Cherninia (‘Parotosuchus') denwaifrom the Middle Triassic Denwa Formation of India. The lateral orientation of the tabular horns and morphology of the otic region suggests that Cherninia megarhina is slightly more derived than the Indian species. Mastodonsaurids have traditionally been perceived as passive, benthic suction-feeders. However, recent work on the anatomy and functional morphology of the skeleton of mastodonsaurids suggests that they were designed for active swimming and predation. As such, it is hypothesised that prey capture was achieved using sideways sweeps of the head rather than suction-feeding.