Thursday, May 31, 2012

[Paleontology/Mammalogy • 2010] Nesolagus sinensis • First discovery of fossil Nesolagus (Leporidae, Lagomorpha) from Southeast Asia

A new leporid species, Nesolagus sinensis sp. nov., is described here representing the only leporid ember of the Early Pleistocene Gigantopithecus fauna from Sanhe Cave, Chongzuo, Guangxi, South China and also the first fossil taxon of the Southeast Asian genus Nesolagus. Compared with two extant Nesolagus species from Indonesia and Vietnam and other related leprids, the new species has a relatively small size and an extraordinarily weak anterior internal reentrant (AIR) on p3, but it also retains the simplified paedomorphic pattern during the ontogenetic process as in extant species, which suggests that the new species is more primitive than and probably directly ancestral to extant Nesolagus species. The new species seems closely related to Alilepus longisinuosus from the Late Miocene strata of Lufeng, Yunnan, and probably diverged from a leporid similar to its ancestral form. It also indicates that Nesolagus originated in Southwest China.

Keywords: Guangxi of China, Early Pleistocene, Nesolagus sinensis sp. nov., Gigantopithecus fauna

Order Lagomorpha Brandt, 1885
Family Leporidae Gray, 1821
Genus Nesolagus Forsyth Major, 1899
Type species   Nesolagus netscheri (Schlegel, 1880)

Nesolagus sinensis sp. nov. (Figures 3 and 4)

Holotype: Fragmentary ramus of a left mandible with fragmentary incisor and p3 to m3 (IVPP V15932).
Type locality: Wuming Mountain in Chongzuo Ecological Park in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Geological age: Middle Early Pleistocene.
Etymology: Named for the first discovery of Nesolagus fossil in China (after Greek “Sino”, pertaining to China and the Chinese).

Citation:   Jin C Z, Tomida Y, Wang Y, et al. 2010. First discovery of fossil Nesolagus (Leporidae, Lagomorpha) from Southeast Asia. Sci China Earth Sci. 53: 1134–1140, doi: 10.1007/s11430-010-4010-3