New phiocricetomyine rodents (Hystricognathi) from the Jebel Qatrani Formation, Fayum Depression, Egypt

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National Science Foundation

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Research Article

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Background: The rich rodent assemblages from the Eocene Oligocene deposits of the Jebel Qatrani Formation (Fayum Depression, Egypt) have important implications for our understanding of the origin and paleobiogeography of Hystricognathi, a diverse clade that is now represented by the Afro-Asiatic Hystricidae, New World Caviomorpha, and African Phiomorpha. Methods: Here we present previously undescribed material of the enigmatic hystricognath clade Phiocricetomyinae, from two stratigraphic levels in the lower sequence of the Jebel Qatrani Formation a new genus and species (Qatranimys safroutus) from the latest Eocene Locality 41 (~34 Ma, the oldest and most productive quarry in the formation) and additional material of Talahphiomys lavocati from that species type locality, early Oligocene Quarry E (~31 33.2 Ma). Results: The multiple specimens of Qatranimys safroutus from L-41 document almost the entire lower and upper dentition, as well as mandibular fragments and the first cranial remains known for a derived phiocricetomyine. Specimens from Quarry E allow us to expand comparisons with specimens from Libya (late Eocene of Dur at-Talah and early Oligocene of Zallah Oasis) that have been placed in T. lavocati, and we show that the Dur at-Talah and Zallah specimens do not pertain to this species. These observations leave the Fayum Quarry E as the only locality where T. lavocati occurs.

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