Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa

By Meave G. Leakey; John M. Harris | Go to book overview

Appendix
NOTES ON THE RECONSTRUCTIONS OF FOSSIL
VERTEBRATES FROM LOTHAGAM

Mauricio Antón

Figure 1.4. Paw of Lokotunjailurus emageritus. The remarkable preservation of the manus in the Lothagam machairodont leaves no doubt as to the relative proportions of the claws. The huge dewclaw was absolutely larger than that of a modern lion of greater body size, whereas the claws of digits II to V were actually smaller than the corresponding elements in a modern leopard, which is, of course, much smaller than Lokotunjailurus.

To show more clearly the size differences between the claws of different digits, I have drawn the claws protracted, although during normal locomotion on the ground they would be retracted, as in modern felids. The shape and size of the claw sheaths are broadly determined by those of the ungual, or distal, phalanges. The position of the foot pads is determined by the skeletal elements of the manus: the phalangeal pads in digits II to IV are placed under the articulation between phalanges 2 and 3 of each digit, while the main pad is placed under the articulations between the metacarpals and the proximal phalanges. The carpal pad is slightly distal to the pisiform. The morphology of the main pad is constant among modern felids, and fossil footprints attributable to early felids from European sites of Early Miocene age suggest that this morphology was already well established by that time.

Figure 4.14a. Brevirrostrine crocodiles. These reconstructed heads are based on well-preserved skull material from Lothagam, complemented when necessary by material from other sites. In the case of Rimasuchus lloydi, cranial material from Koobi Fora was used to reconstruct parts of the skull that were less well preserved in the Lothagam specimens. The external features (scales, skin texture) in Lothagam Crocodylus niloticus and C. cataphractus can be safely reconstructed because there are extant representatives of both species. For the reconstruction of Rimasuchus, external features were modeled from extant C. niloticus.

Figure 4.14b. Longirostrine crocodiles. Skull morphology in Euthecodon is mostly based on Lothagam cranial material, but skulls from Koobi Fora have also been used for this reconstruction. Eogavialis is based on the holotype skull from Lothagam, and part of the posterior skull had to be restored. External features in Euthecodon are based on modern Crocodylidae, while those of Eogavialis follow those of Gavialis, the only surviving gavialid genus.

Figure 5.1. Kubwaxerus pattersoni. This restoration is based primarily on the holotype partial skeleton from Lothagam. Additional material from Lothagam, including hindlimb bones, helps provide a complete image of the animal’s body proportions. External features such as coat pattern, ears, and vibrissae are based on living members of the tribe Protoxerini (African giant and sun squirrels), to which Kubwaxerus is closely related. Kubwaxerus is shown walking on the ground to reflect terrestrial adaptations of its postcranial skeleton that suggest that this animal, although largely arboreal, would have spent a significant amount of time foraging on the ground, perhaps searching for fallen nuts in the forest floor.

Figure 6.1. Parapapio lothagamensis. Although the cranial material from Lothagam provides a fairly clear picture of the head and face of this cercopithecid, the available postcranials are fragmentary and mostly unassociated, which makes it difficult to reconstruct body proportions. Consequently, the relative proportions in this restoration are based on modern species of papionines, mostly of the genus Macaca. Video footage of various species of wild macaques and my own observations of captive specimens show that, like baboons (and unlike vervet monkeys), their forefeet are digitigrade while moving on the ground, although the angle of the metacarpals with the horizontal appears to be

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Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Geology, Paleosols, and Dating 15
  • 3 - Crustacea and Pisces 65
  • 4 - Reptilia and Aves 113
  • 5 - Lagomorpha and Rodentia 167
  • 6 - Primates 199
  • 7 - Carn1vora 259
  • 8 - Pr0b0sc1dea and Tubul1dentata 329
  • 9 - Perissodactyla 369
  • 10 - Hippopotam1dae and Suidae 439
  • 11 - Ruminantia 521
  • 12 - Isotopes 579
  • 12.1 Stable Isotope Ecology of Northern Kenya, with Emphasis on the Turkana Basin 581
  • 13 - Lothagam- Its Significance and Contributions 623
  • Appendix - Notes on the Reconstructions of Fossil Vertebrates from Lothagam 659
  • Contributors 665
  • Index 667
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