Faunal Change in the Turkana Basin during the Late Oligocene and Miocene

Meave Leakey, Ari Grossman, Mercedes Gutiérrez, John G. Fleagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Faunal evolution over the last 65 million years of earth's history was dominated by mammalian radiations, but much of this era is poorly represented in Africa. Mammals first appeared early in the Mesozoic, living alongside dinosaurs for millions of years, but it was not until the extinction of dinosaurs 65 myr ago that the first major explosion of mammalian taxa took place. The Cenozoic (65 Ma to Recent) witnessed repeated and dynamic events involving the radiation, evolution, and extinction of mammalian faunas. Two of these events, each marking the extinction of one diverse fauna and subsequent establishment of another equally diverse fauna, both involving advanced catarrhine primates, are recorded in sites in the Turkana Basin, despite the poorly represented record of Cenozoic faunas elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. The first of these events occurred at the Oligocene-Miocene transition and the other at the Miocene-Pliocene transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-253
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary anthropology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethiopia
  • Fossil
  • Kenya
  • Mammals
  • Primates


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