Date of this Version
THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY Number 3023, 34 pp.
Although the time of origin of viverrid and hyaenid carnivorans has not been clearly documented in the fossil record, their theater of evolution has long been established by a mid-Cenozoic fossil distribution entirely confined to the Old World. Recent examination of the basicranial morphology of important early aeluroid crania from Europe and Asia significantly alters earlier views of viverrid and hyaenid origins. The early Miocene carnivoran Herpestides antiquus, considered a potential ancestral hyaenid or herpestid in earlier studies, is identified as a true viverrid on the basis of a large sample of skulls of both juveniles and adults from Aquitanian sediments of the Allier basin, France. The basicranial morphology of Herpestides has attained the modem viverrid grade of development in the early Miocene (European Neogene mammal zone MN2a), and suggests that diversification of the Viverridae was in progress by this time. In ongoing work to be published elsewhere, the mid-Miocene Asian camivoran Tungurictis spocki, long regarded as a viverrid, is identified as an early hyaenid, following preparation and restudy ofthe auditory region of the genoholotype cranium from Tung Gur, Mongolia. These discoveries indicate that separation of the modem aeluroid families as discrete lineages had been accomplished by the beginning of the Neogene in the Old World, and that diversification within these families must have been initiated in the early to mid-Miocene.