New Early Oligocene Mammal Fauna Discovered in Libya

Monday, March 9, 2015

Christopher Beard and colleagues have published their first scientific paper based on field work in Libya that he and colleagues undertook just after the Libyan revolution that overthrew Qaddafi in early 2013. The paper, "A new early Oligocene mammal fauna from the Sirt Basin, central Libya: Biostratigraphic and paleobiogeographic implications,” was published in the Journal of African Earth Sciences:

We report the discovery of a new early Oligocene vertebrate fauna from the vicinity of Zallah Oasis in the Sirt Basin of central Libya. The Zallah Incision local fauna has been recovered from the base of a fluvial channel within a rock unit that has been mapped as ‘‘Continental and Transitional Marine Deposits.’’ This rock unit has produced fossil vertebrates sporadically since the 1960s, but the Zallah Incision local fauna is the most diverse assemblage of fossil mammals currently known from this unit. In addition to lower vertebrates, the fauna includes an indeterminate sirenian, the anthracothere Bothriogenys, a new species of the hyracoid genus Thyrohyrax, new species of the hystricognathous rodent genera Metaphiomys and Neophiomys, Metaphiomys schaubi, and a new species of the parapithecid primate genus Apidium. The Zallah Incision local fauna from Libya appears to be close in age to Fayum quarries V and G in the Jebel Qatrani Formation of Egypt and the Taqah locality in the Ashawq Formation of Oman. Considered together, these early Oligocene faunas support a modest level of faunal provincialism across the northern part of Afro-Arabia during the early Oligocene.

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