The pattern and process of mammoth evolution in Eurasia.

Lister, A. M., Sher, A. V., van Essen, H. and Guangbiao, W. (2005) The pattern and process of mammoth evolution in Eurasia. Quaternary International, 126-128 . pp. 49-64. DOI 10.1016/j.quaint.2004.04.014.

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Mammoth evolution in Eurasia represents one of the best-studied examples of evolutionary pattern and process in the terrestrial fossil record. A pervasive belief in the gradual transformation of chronospecies in Europe is giving way to a more complex model incorporating geographical variation across the whole of northern Eurasia. This in turn casts doubt on biostratigraphic deductions which assume gradual transformation of molar morphology, simultaneous across the species’ range. The earliest European elephantids, Mammuthus rumanus, occur in the interval 3.5–2.5 Ma, and are distinctly more primitive than the better-known M. meridionalis. The species ‘M. gromovi’, identified in the interval c. 2.6–2.2 Ma, appears to be a junior synonym of M. meridionalis. M. meridionalis dispersed widely and, in the interval 2.0–1.5 Ma, gave rise to M. trogontherii in eastern Asia, probably in China, spreading to NE Siberia by 1.2 Ma. Between that date and c. 600 ka, flow of genes and/or individuals westwards produced an interaction with European M. meridionalis which led to a network of populations in time and space and the eventual supplanting of that species by M. trogontherii. This conclusion is based principally on the earlier appearance of M. trogontherii morphology in eastern Asia, supplemented by complex morphological patterns in Europe during the time of transition. Subsequently, M. trogontherii did not undergo a gradual transformation into M. primigenius (woolly mammoth) in Europe, but remained in stasis (apart from size reduction) until 200 ka. In NE Siberia, however, M. trogontherii began a transformation into primitive M. primigenius morphology as early as 700 ka, and that species continued its evolution in the same region through the Middle and Late Pleistocene. The incursion of M. primigenius into Europe appears to have occurred soon after 200 ka, and its ‘replacement’ of M. trogontherii there probably included some introgression from the latter species.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: mammoth evolution; pattern; processes
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: Otto Schmidt Laboratory
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 07:50
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2015 07:50

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