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Antelope

The antelope fossils (Family: Bovidae) from Langebaanweg are of interest as they represent an early stage in the evolution of modern African antelope fauna. There is a surprisingly wide range of taxa at such an early stage in African bovid evolution, reflecting a mosaic of habitats in the local palaeo-environment. For example, riverine habitat is indicated by the Bovini and Reduncini, closed habitat by the Neotragini, and grassland by the Alcelaphini & Antilopini.

Figure 1. Frontal views of D. neanica
An unexpected fossil find at Langebaanweg was the boselaphine antelope as boselaphine antelopes occur today only in Asia. The Langebaanweg form, Mesembripaortac acrae, may represent a late survivor in southern Africa of an ancient lineage. The reduncine and alcelaphine fossils at Langebaanweg are unique in being among the oldest known representatives of these tribes (Gentry 1980).

The two alcelaphine species, Damalacra neanica (Fig.1) and Damalacra acalla (Fig.2), are of particular interest as their dental morphology suggests a very similar, but not identical lifestyle and feeding ecology. D. neanica is more derived, being more hypsodont and having shorter premolar rows. This suggests niche differentiation,
Figure 2. Frontal views of D. acalla
which is what one may expect in two closely related sympatric alcelaphines. D. neanica shows body size proportions that are almost identical to the extant blesbok, although Damalacra acalla is also similar in size.

Acknowledgements:

Our thanks to Dr James Brink for supplying the above information.

References:

GENTRY, A. W. 1980. Fossil bovidae (Mammalia) from Langebaanweg, South Africa. Annals of the South African Museum 79(8): 213-337.

Click here to read a paper on "Morphological and trophic distinction in the dentitions of two early alcelaphine bovids from Langebaanweg (genus Damalacra)."