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, 104 (13), 5510-5

Additional Material of the Enigmatic Early Miocene Mammal Kelba and Its Relationship to the Order Ptolemaiida


Additional Material of the Enigmatic Early Miocene Mammal Kelba and Its Relationship to the Order Ptolemaiida

Susanne Cote et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Kelba quadeemae, a fossil mammal from the Early Miocene of East Africa, was originally named on the basis of three isolated upper molars. Kelba has previously been interpreted as a creodont, a pantolestid, an insectivoran, and a hemigaline viverrid. The true affinities of this taxon have remained unclear because of the limited material and its unique morphology relative to other Miocene African mammals. New material of Kelba from several East African Miocene localities, most notably a skull from the Early Miocene locality of Songhor in Western Kenya, permits analysis of the affinities of Kelba and documents the lower dentition of this taxon. Morphological comparison of this new material clearly demonstrates that Kelba is a member of the order Ptolemaiida, a poorly understood group whose fossil record was previously restricted to the Oligocene Fayum deposits of northern Egypt. Phylogenetic analysis supports the monophyly of the Ptolemaiida, including Kelba, and recovers two monophyletic clades within the order. We provide new family names for these groups and an emended diagnosis for the order. The discovery of ptolemaiidans from the Miocene of East Africa is significant because it extends the known temporal range of the order by >10 million years and the geographic range by >3,200 km. Although the higher-level affinities of the Ptolemaiida remain obscure, their unique morphology and distribution through a larger area of Africa (and exclusively Africa) lend support to the idea that Ptolemaiida may have an ancient African origin.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Upper dentition of Kelba. (A) Occlusal view of the KNM SO 23296 partial cranium, showing right P1–P4 and M1–M3; left I1–I3, C, P1–P4, and M2–M3. (B) Left lateral view of same. (Scale bar for A and B: 50 mm.) (C) Occlusal view of holotype M1? (NHM M 19087). (D) Occlusal view of M3 (NHM M 19095). (E) Right P3 of Cleopatrodon (Duke Lemur Center, Division of Fossil Primates, 9468), reported as left P3 in Simons and Bown (11). (F) Occlusal view of KNM SO 5669, M2 (Scale bar for C–F: 10 mm.)
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Lower dentition of Kelba. (A–C) Buccal (A), lingual (B), and occlusal (C) views of mandible KNM ME 14. (Scale bar for A–C: 50 mm.) (D–F) Buccal (D), lingual (E), and occlusal (F) views of KNM BN 10036, m2 attributed to Kelba sp. (Scale bar for D–F: 10 mm.)
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Strict consensus tree for the Ptolemaiida. Only one tree was recovered in ordered/unordered analysis (ordered tree length = 32; consistency index = 0.656; unordered tree length = 31; consistency index = 0.677). Numbers along the branches represent bootstrap support (1,000 repetitions) with multistate characters ordered (above branch) and unordered (below branch).

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