The myth of the hippo-like anthracothere: The eternal problem of homology and convergence


The notion that anthracotheres had hippo-like body proportions, locomotion and lifestyles has been in the literature for so long, and has been repeated so many times, that it has taken on the aura of unquestionable truth. However, right from the beginning of studies into hippo-anthracothere relationships over a century and a half ago, observations were made that revealed the existence of fundamental differences in dental, cranial and postcranial anatomy in the two groups. The aim of this paper is to review the possible role of anthracotheres in the evolution of hippopotamids. It is concluded that they played no part in it, whereas palaeochoerids could well represent the ghost lineage that has evaded scientists for more than a century.

Palabras clave

Hippopotamidae, Anthracotheriidae, Palaeochoeridae, evolution, homology, convergence, early/late divergence, history, phylogeny

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