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African Megafauna

25 June 2020

Another mysterous extinction event where one set of animals is replaced by a different set of animals. Giant wolverines and otters the size of wolves once roamed southern Africa. At https://phys.org/news/2020-06-gigantic-wolverines-otters-size-wolves.html … where we learn that 120km north of Cape Town there is a quarry that is a paleontological treasure trove. Another one – but this quarry dates back 5 million years ago, to another boundary event. We are told the climate differed by 2 or 3 degrees and the sea level was 30m higher. Sounds like it was nearer the equator – equatorial bulge and all that.

The quarry has yielded fossils of hyena, sabre toothed cats, big bears, giant civets, elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotamus etc. There are 90 bird species from penguins to parrots, various reptiles, frogs, and surprisingly, marines species such as sharks, seals, dolphins and whales. There were also giant weasels, otters, and badgers, all living happily in southern Africa, 5 million years ago. Some of them were giant versions of the species – otherwise dubbed megafauna. We are also informed of other interesting details as it seems wolverines have been found in Kenya and Ethiopia, but of a different kind. The quarry belongs to the Miocene/Pliocene boundary. Incidentally, the wolverines went extinct, as well as some of the other animals, as in the late Pliocene they are not to be seen. They were replaced by other carnivores such as hyenas, canids and felids (dogs and cats). It seems climate and situation may have been different in the Miocene as opposed to the Pliocene and Pleistocene.

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