Record Details

Jablonski, J. I. Xue-Ping Nina G.;Hao-Wen, Tong;Denise, F.;Ebbestad, Jan Ove R.;Teng-Song, Liu Cheng-Wu Y. U.
Tapirus yunnanensis from Shuitangba, a terminal Miocene hominoid site in Zhaotong, Yunnan Province of China
Vertebrata Palasiatica
Journal Article
The fossil tapirid records of Late Miocene and Early Pliocene were quite poor in China as before known. The recent excavations of the terminal Miocene hominoid site (between 6 and 6.5 Ma) at Shuitangba site, Zhaotong in Yunnan Province resulted in the discovery of rich tapir fossils, which include left maxilla with P2-M2 and mandibles with complete lower dentitions. The new fossil materials can be referred to Tapirus yunnanensis, which represents a quite small species of the genus Tapirus. But T. yunnanensis is slightly larger than another Late Miocene species T. hezhengensis from Gansu, northwest China, both of which are remarkably smaller than the Plio-Pleistocene Tapirus species in China. The new fossils provided more information to define the species T. yunnanensis more precisely. Yunnan can be regarded as one of the centers of tapir evolution during the Mid-Late Miocene period, as quite a number of Mid-Late Miocene tapir fossils have been recovered in several localities of Yunnan, which include Xiaolongtan, Yuanmou, Lufeng, Zhaotong and others. Based on the measurements of tooth size, the late Cenozoic tapirs were generally getting larger gradually through time in China, which means the tooth sizes coincide well with their geological ages, the later the larger, and all the Mid-Late Miocene tapirs are exclusively small-sized; thus, the tooth size of fossil tapirs in China is likely to have some significance in age estimation. By contrary, both the dwarf and the normal-sized or larger-sized tapirs were discovered from Mid-Late Miocene strata in Europe and North America.