Anthracobunids from the middle eocene of India and pakistan are stem perissodactyls

PLoS One. 2014 Oct 8;9(10):e109232. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0109232. eCollection 2014.


Anthracobunidae is an Eocene family of large mammals from south Asia that is commonly considered to be part of the radiation that gave rise to elephants (proboscideans) and sea cows (sirenians). We describe a new collection of anthracobunid fossils from Middle Eocene rocks of Indo-Pakistan that more than doubles the number of known anthracobunid fossils and challenges their putative relationships, instead implying that they are stem perissodactyls. Cranial, dental, and postcranial elements allow a revision of species and the recognition of a new anthracobunid genus. Analyses of stable isotopes and long bone geometry together suggest that most anthracobunids fed on land, but spent a considerable amount of time near water. This new evidence expands our understanding of stem perissodactyl diversity and sheds new light on perissodactyl origins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dugong
  • Elephants
  • Fossils*
  • India
  • Pakistan

Grant support

The National Science Foundation is acknowledged for support to M. T. C. (EAR-0847413), E. R. S. (BCS-0819186 and BCS-0416164), and J. G. M. T. (EAR-0207370). Also, S. B. acknowledges financial support received from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for field work in the Eocene sections of Gujarat. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.