Comparisons of Schansitherium tafeli with Samotherium boissieri (Giraffidae, Mammalia) from the Late Miocene of Gansu Province, China

We are describing and figuring for the first time skulls of Schansitherium tafeli, which are abundant in the Gansu area of China from the Late Miocene. They were animals about the size of Samotherium with shorter necks that had two pairs of ossicones that merge at the base, which is unlike Samotherium. The anterior ossicones consist of anterior lineations, which may represent growth lines. They were likely mixed feeders similar to Samotherium.
Schansitherium is tentatively placed in a very close position to Samotherium. Samotherium and Schansitherium represent a pair of morphologically very similar species that likely coexisted similarly to pairs of modern species, where the main difference is in the ossicones. Pairs of ruminants in Africa, for example, exist today that differ mostly in their horn shape but otherwise are similar in size, shape, and diet. The absence of Schansitherium from Europe is interesting, however, as Samotherium is found in both locations. While is it challenging to interpret neck length and ossicone shape in terms of function in combat, we offer our hypothesis as to how the two species differed in their fighting techniques.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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