Bovids are diverse herbivorous mammals that inhabit a wide spectrum of habitats and occur naturally over much of the globe. Ranging from the enigmatic and elusive forest antelopes of South East Asia and Central Africa to the ubiquitous cattle and other livestock common to most world cultures, and from the Himalayan goat to the desert oryx to the North American bison, bovids represent an example of a clade that owes its success to its capacity to diversify in the face of selective pressures. The evolutionary history of Bovidae is known to have taken place in the Miocene to Recent, or within the last 23 Ma (Figure 1). The Miocene fossil record is both rich and geographically extensive, and as a result the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of Bovidae promises to provide one of the most complete such histories for any large mammal group.
Between August 4 and 8, 2008, the Bovid Analytical Working Group of the Revealing Hominid Origins Initiative (National Science Foundation, USA) met in Addis Ababa for a conference on the fossil record and evolution of Bovidae with special emphasis on the late Miocene to early Pleistocene. A summary of the main themes, findings, and recommendations of the conference follows.