1st Edition

Evolution and Fossil Record of African Proboscidea

By William J. Sanders Copyright 2024
    370 Pages 20 Color & 65 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    370 Pages 20 Color & 65 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book details the long, diverse, and complex phylogenetic history of elephants and their fossil relatives (the Proboscidea), whose origin is deeply embedded some 60 million years ago in Africa. Most of the major evolutionary events of proboscideans occurred in Africa, and these are examined in their geological, paleoecological, geographic, and faunal contexts. Updated information about feeding adaptations, taxonomy and systematics, genetics, and site occurrences is included and summarized in tables, figures, and charts. This is the first comprehensive review of African proboscideans and illustrates the need to more actively protect elephants and ensure their survival in modern ecosystems.

    Key Features:

    • Provides a comprehensive systematic review of the African proboscidean fossil record
    • Includes a summary of taxonomy, geochronology, biogeography and morphology
    • Documents major faunal events including those associated with hominin origins
    • Synthesizes new data from genomic, isotopic, and microware analyses
    • Emphasizes the role of elephants in ecosystems and the importance of conservation

    Introduction: Desiderata

    1—Context of African Proboscidean Evolution

    2—Early Paleogene: Origin and Evolution of the First Proboscideans

    3—Late Paleogene: First Major Diversification and Adaptive Radiation of Proboscideans

    4—Early to Middle Miocene: Diversification of Proboscideans and Dominance of Elephantimorphs

    5—Late Miocene: The Rise of Elephants

    6—Early Pliocene: Proboscidean Relay Interval

    7—Late Pliocene to Holocene: The Rise and Fall of the Elephas recki complex


    William Joseph Sanders, PhD, ("Bill") attended college at the University of Chicago and earned his PhD in Paleoanthropology from New York University (NYU) in 1995. His doctoral dissertation on the australopithecine vertebral column was recognized for distinction by a Dean’s Best Science Dissertation Award. At the University of Michigan, Bill holds the position of Senior Research Laboratory Specialist and is an Associate Research Scientist in the Museum of Paleontology and Department of Anthropology. His scholarly interests include the taxonomy, systematics, evolution, paleoecology, and morphological adaptations of Old World fossil mammals, particularly of Afro-Arabian proboscideans and catarrhine primates. Bill’s research is field- and specimen-based, which has led to paleontological and museum work in China, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, and across Africa from "Cape to Cairo" (South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Egypt). Results of his 40 years of research investigations have been widely published in academic journals and presented at professional venues. In 2010, he co-edited (with Lars Werdelin) the Cenozoic Mammals of Africa (University of California Press), which received a PROSE Award from the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence, Single Volume Reference in Science. In 2017, Bill was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Materials and Methods in Paleontology for high standards of professionalism and mentoring of younger colleagues.