NEW GOLDEN MOLES (AFROTHERIA, CHRYSOCHLORIDAE) FROM
THE EARLY PLIOCENE OF SOUTH AFRICA
We describe new material of fossil golden moles (Chrysochloridae) from the early Pliocene site of Langebaanweg, South Africa. This site has produced hundreds of isolated craniodental and postcranial elements, all of which are easily identifiable as chrysochlorid. Based on size and morphology, at least three species are represented in this assemblage, two of which are represented by material of sufficient quality to name. Based on relative abundance, humeral and mandibular types can be associated with
other material. Craniodentally, the most common Langebaanweg species closely resembles the extant Cape golden mole, Chrysochloris asiatica, but differs in showing a relatively narrow distal humerus, proportionally similar to that of the extant Eremitalpa granti. A second, rarer species is represented by two well-preserved mandibles that exhibit a stout, enlarged lower second incisor, a robust mandibular corpus, and is associated with a less common humeral type that resembles living Chrysochloris. At least one additional species is represented by a small number of relatively large humeri, femora, and scapular fragments. Because it lacks any craniodental representation, it is not named in this paper. We tentatively suggest that the relatively narrow distal margin of the humerus of the new, C. asiatica-like species may have been adapted to a habitat similar to that of the modern E. granti, a "sand-swimming" golden mole currently known from northwestern South Africa and southern Namibia.
Robert J. Asher.
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing St., CB2
3EJ, United Kingdom
Margaret Avery. Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa
Keywords: fossils, Mammalia, new species, humerus, fossoriality, sand swimming
PE Article Number: 13.1.3A
Copyright: Paleontological Association March 2010
Submission: 25 August 2009. Acceptance: 7 January 2010