Craniodental variability in modern and fossil Plains zebra (Equus burchellii Gray 1824) from East and southern Africa

Authors: Reynolds, S.C. and Bishop, L.C.

Pages: 49-60

Publisher: Oxbow Books

Place of Publication: Oxford


The Plains zebra (Equus burchellii Gray 1824) is a widespread equid species, inhabiting a continuous range throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This study investigates geographic and temporal variability in members of E. burchellii from East Africa versus those from southern Africa. Modern variability in cranial and dental morphologies is first assessed by examining metric variation between specimens from the two geographical regions. Second, a comparison is made between modern and fossil equid specimens attributed to E. burchellii from East and southern African Pleistocene (1.8 – 0.01 Ma) sites. Results show that modern southern E. burchellii is larger in overall cranial and dental dimensions than living East African conspecifics, but East African fossils are far larger than modern counterparts living in the same region. Morphological differences observed between fossil and modern East African E. burchellii may reflect changes in climate in this region, while southern Africa experienced little change in conditions over the last 1.8 million years.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Sally Reynolds