Paleontologists have examined 142 new specimens, such as 160 enamel, of the extinct medium-sized beaver species Steneofiber depereti from the Late Miocene Hammerschmiede locality in the Northern Alpine Foreland Basin, Germany.
Currently, beavers are exclusively represented by the genus Castor, which consists of two species: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber).
A a lot bigger variety of many dozen species in seven genera (Anchitheriomys, Chalicomys, Dipoides, Eucastor? (Schreuderia), Euroxenomys, Steneofiber, and Trogontherium) is recognised from the European Miocene epoch.
A single of these extinct species, Steneofiber depereti, was small smaller sized than the fashionable beavers and lived in freshwater dominated river ecosystems of southern Germany a lot more than 11 million yrs in the past.
In a new review, Thomas Lechner and Professor Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the College of Tübingen analyzed the dental material of Steneofiber depereti from two fossiliferous levels of the Hammerschmiede locality in Germany.
The materials represented beaver individuals of a huge range of age lessons, from juvenile to previous.
“Beavers today have strong loved ones ties. Mom and dad and up to two generations of youthful get care of offspring collectively,” Lechner stated.
“Eventually, mature animals go away the clan to look for out their have territory.”
“The perfect property for a beaver is normally on a important river, most of which are by now taken, so young grownup beavers are pressured to travel upstream and settle in more compact waterways.”
“Survival is substantially more difficult here and the mortality price is correspondingly increased in this age team than it is for older animals who occupy an best habitat.”
“It’s uncommon to be equipped to make statements about the mortality and ecology of fossil species — mostly there are only one finds,” Professor Böhme added.
“Hammerschmiede, wherever the locate was built, presents in depth perception into two unique fossil habitats, a smaller rivulet — the habitat of the fantastic ape Danuvius guggenmosi — and a more substantial river.”
“This built it doable to review the mortality of the beavers in the river with those in the stream.”
“It appears to be that, similarly to modern illustrations of the genus, the best habitat for Steneofiber depereti was in larger river places,” Lechner stated.
“Moreover, beavers possibly also lived in family members clans with ongoing parental care 11 million decades in the past.”
“In addition to this, each the ecological similarities of this variety of beaver and the morphological qualities of the tooth indicate that Steneofiber depereti is in the line of the ancestors of today’s beaver.”
“The molars of our fossil beaver have similarities with the forerunner of the up to date beaver. So this species suits into a smaller gap in between beforehand obviously distinct species and verify that the beaver has steadily developed into the present kind.”
“The study as soon as once more shows how satisfying meticulous excavation is and the exclusive opportunity that fossils can have, due to the fact not only pure morphology but also statistical age distribution of finds can generate sudden insights,” Professor Böhme reported.
The review was published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
Thomas Lechner & Madelaine Böhme. 2022. The beaver Steneofiber depereti from the lower Higher Miocene hominid locality Hammerschmiede and remarks on its ecology. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 67 (4) doi: 10.4202/application.00997.2022
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