Sunday, August 10, 2008

Talking about the Duiker

Tetrapod Zoology

Thanks to Rhio Barnhart for the link to this article, which is a fascinating insight into the duiker, but also mentions its possible presence in Egypt.

Duikers, or cephalophines, are an entirely African group of bovids, and so far as we know they have never gotten out of Africa. Virtually nothing is known of their early history: there's a partial maxilla and a molar from the Miocene, and a few Pliocene and Pleistocene records, some of which are of extant species. The Miocene molar is interesting as it's from northern Africa, where no duikers occur today. However, Manlius (2001) suggested that an animal depicted in a 4th dynasty hunting scene (dating to c. 2561-2459 BC) at Atet's tomb in Meidum, Egypt, is a Jentink's duiker C. jentinki, and proposed on the basis of this that an isolated population of this species might have persisted in Egypt until at least this time. Flores (2001) pointed out that duiker bones were identified from an Egyptian tomb in 1948, perhaps providing support for this idea. Given the present range of C. jentinki (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast), a purported presence in ancient Egypt is very difficult to believe, but maybe these discoveries do show that duikers did occur north of the Sahara until recently.

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