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Late Pliocene rodents from the Irrawaddy sediments of central Myanmar and their palaeogeographical significance

Yuichiro Nishioka, Masanaru Takai, Takeshi Nishimura, Thaung-Htike, Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein, Naoko Egi, Takehisa Tsubamoto, Maung-Maung

The Upper Pliocene Irrawaddy sediments in the Gwebin area of central Myanmar recently yielded a rodent assemblage that contains nine species belonging to four families: four species of Muridae, three of Hystricidae, one of Spalacidae, and one of Sciuridae. The murids consist of Hapalomys cf. longicaudatus, Maxomys pliosurifer sp. nov., Rattus jaegeri and cf. Rattus sp. indet., which include both extinct and extant forms. Maxomys pliosurifer is relatively similar to Maxomys surifer that lives in South-East Asia in terms of tooth morphology but retains plesiomorphic features shared with the ancestral rat, Karnimata, and possible sister genera of Maxomys, such as Ratchaburimys and Millardia. The three hystricids belong to the genus Hystrix and consist of two extinct brachydont species (Hystrix paukensis and Hystrix sp. indet.) and one hypsodont species similar to living form (Hystrix cf. brachyura). This finding indicates that primitive brachydont species and derived hypsodont species of Hystrix had likely coexisted in the locality, but the brachydont species are significantly more common amongst specimens collected from the Gwebin area. The spalacid species is Cannomys cf. badius and the sciurid species is Menetes sp. indet. These two rodents are similar to living species in continental South-East Asia although they show minor differences in tooth characteristics compared to the living forms. Some species and genera of the fossil rodent assemblage from the Gwebin area also occur in Upper Pliocene localities of Thailand, suggesting chronological correlation between these two faunas. Moreover, these fossil rodent assemblages are composed primarily of the species distributed endemically in continental South-East Asia. Late Pliocene rodents of continental South-East Asia were affected by river barriers that formed during the Mio-Pliocene, and they were probably not able to disperse from South-East Asia into South and East Asia.

Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 2014,


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