Article: Anatomical revision of the genus Merycopotamus (Artiodactyla; Anthracotheriidae): its significance for Late Miocene mammal dispersal in Asia
New fossil remains of the anthracothere genus Merycopotamus Falconer and Cautley, are described. Most of them were discovered by the Harvard University and Geological Survey of Pakistan joint research project (Y-GSP) in the well-dated Middle and Late Miocene deposits of the Potwar Plateau in northern Pakistan. This new material led us to revise the systematics of the genus with the validation of three species, M. nanus Falconer (M. pusillus Lydekker), M. dissimilis Falconer and Cautley, and M. medioximus Lihoreau et al., and allowed us to determine precisely their chronological distributions in a continuous Neogene sequence. Other specimens reported from the late Miocene deposits of the Khorat Plateau in north-east Thailand by the Department of Mineral Resources are the first remains of Merycopotamus to have been discovered in that region and are attributed to M. medioximus. These discoveries indicate a wider geographical distribution of the genus in the early Late Miocene. Anatomical investigations highlight the evolution of Merycopotamus through the Miocene towards more amphibious habits. Palaeobiogeographical and palaeoecological information for Merycopotamus stress the role of the Himalayan orogenesis as a dispersal barrier and the impact of a major global regression event on the evolution of Indian Subcontinent faunas from the Middle Miocene to the Late Pliocene.