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Development in “southern hemisphere” mammals
 
SVPCA Conference
 
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
Authors
 
*Robert J Asher
 
Abstract
 
Evidence for the common ancestry of endemic African (elephants, seacows, hyraxes, aardvarks, sengis, tenrecs and golden moles) and South American (sloths, armadillos, anteaters) mammal clades has up until recently been based almost entirely on molecular data. While anatomical features held in common by these taxa are not obvious, morphological evidence for this clade does become apparent with consideration of their development. Two particularly interesting features include a relaxed level of constraint in vertebral number and relatively late eruption of the permanent dentition. Here, I present new data on the percentage of vertebral atavisms in afrotherians and timing of dental eruption in macroscelidid specimens of known age. I optimise these characters across mammals based on recent hypotheses of the extant mammalian Tree of Life, and ask if the ontogenetic distinctiveness of Afrotheria and Xenarthra is derived or primitive relative to other placental mammals. This distinctiveness may indicate a significantly different pattern of development from that observed in non-afrotherian, non-xenarthran mammals.
London 2020