Researchers from the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC) have managed to reveal the position in the evolutionary tree of the jiraphid Decennatherium pachecoi . This species lived in Spain during part of the Upper Miocene (approximately between 11 and 9 million years ago) and belonged to the Sivaterine group. The research extends the known range of this group to the Iberian Peninsula. Although the fossils of this animal had been known for decades, its kinship with the rest of giraffes (fossils and current) and with the other great giraffe from the Iberian Miocene, Birgerbohlinia , were still a mystery. “Until now, it was considered that the two species of Iberian jiraphids from the Miocene, Decennatherium pachecoi and Birgerbohlinia schaubi, were directly related,
but the results of this work rule out this Benin Email Lists hypothesis”, explains Israel M. Sánchez, collaborating paleontologist at the MNCN. Study of the fossil material shows that Decennatherium He belonged to the group of the Samoterines, giant extinct giraffes that had four osicons, the characteristic cranial appendages of giraffes. Likewise, Birgerbohlinia appears as belonging to the group of Sivaterinos, also gigantic jiráphids that inhabited the area that goes from North Africa to India. “With this research we have finally managed to clarify that the association that was made between the two species was not correct. Furthermore, we have verified that the biogeographic range of the Samoterines was not limited to Asia and part of the Mediterranean region, but extended to the Iberian Peninsula ”, explains the MNCN researcher María Ríos.
This work includes an analysis of the kinship or phylogeny relationships of the giraffe family (Giraffidae), and it includes more than 30 species of which 47 morphological characters have been compared. Among the species analyzed are the only current representatives of the family, the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, and the okapi, Okapia johnstoni . To gather all the data required for the analysis, paleontologists have reviewed fossil material from the collections of the MNCN, the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The phylogenetic tree of the Giraffidae family that is presented in this article clears up some of the unknowns that surrounded the evolution of these animals, although it raises new hypotheses that will be solved in later works.