The Woranso-Mille paleontological study area, located in the central Afar region of Ethiopia, is one of the most important Pliocene sites in eastern Africa. Since the Woranso-Mille Research Project began its investigation in 2005, more than 7,500 mammalian fossils, including hominins, have been collected from 80 vertebrate localities. This paper provides a preliminary assessment of the Woranso-Mille carnivoran record, a record that is of great interest given the high level of species richness of African carnivorans during the middle Pliocene. Craniodental and postcranial material of canids, lutrine mustelids, viverrids, herpestids, machairodontine and feline felids, and hyaenids has been recovered. Thus, this diverse fauna includes not only the largest carnivorans from this time period (e.g., Enhydriodon and Homotherium), but also some of the smallest, including mongooses, civets, genets, and felids, some of which represent new species. However, the diversity of small taxa does not yet approach that found in the roughly contemporaneous Upper Laetolil Beds of Tanzania. In contrast, lutrine mustelids are better represented at Woranso-Mille than at Kanapoi (Kenya) or Laetoli (Tanzania), which is to be expected given the diversity of habitats represented at these sites. While more material from these sites and others are necessary to truly understand the increased diversity within the early to middle Pliocene eastern African carnivoran guild, it is clear that the material from Woranso-Mille has the potential to fill many of the gaps in our knowledge of carnivorans during this time period.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics