Dispersing or Contracting: A Perspective on the Evolutionary History and Population Conservation of Musk Deer
American Journal of Life Sciences
Volume 4, Issue 2, April 2016, Pages: 20-30
Received: Apr. 8, 2016; Published: Apr. 9, 2016
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Authors
Zhixiao Liu, College of Biology and Envionmental Sciences, Jishou University, Jishou City, Hunan Province, China
Colin Groves, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australia National University, 2602 ACT, Canberra, Australia
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Abstract
Musk deer, as a small hornless group, are of great significance in the phylogenetic evolution of ruminants. Clarification of their evolutionary history has the potential to contribute to an understanding of the total phylogeny of both cervids and bovids. In this paper, based on a comprehensive review of the literature, an integrated rearrangement of moschid fossils is proposed. Our review has produced the following results on the evolution and conservation of moschids: (1) the family Moschidae probably appeared abruptly at a around 30±5Ma, and evolved in parallel with Cervidae and Bovidae; (2) compared with Tragulidae and other Pecora, the Moschidae have acquired a number of progressive traits in common with Cervidae and Bovidae while maintaining certain primitive features, while in their own evolutionary history, they developed a suite of derived features to meet with new environmental circumstances while retaining the most important primitive traits; (3) the origin, divergence, diversification, dispersal and ultimate disappearance of moschids in Europe and North America are essentially closely related with the fluctuation of the global climate and local environmental changes; (4) an overall picture of the evolutionary history of Moschus is given; (5) multiple causes are responsible for the global downturn and near-extinction of all musk deer species and populations in recent decades, but it is due mainly to the international background of musk smuggling and domestic anthropocentric factors, particularly overpoaching using Gansitao. All in all, Early moschids underwent over 20Ma of "boom and bust" history from the late Oligocene to the end of Miocene in Europe and North America, and only the Eastern part of Asia sheltered the recent representatives during the Quaternary glacial cycles, but there is still a very long way to go before we can reconstruct the family’s phylogenetic history in full, and the conservation of today's musk deer populations is currently the most urgent mission.
Keywords
Evolution, Fossil, Moschidae, Moschus, Cervidae, Bovidae, Ruminants
To cite this article
Zhixiao Liu, Colin Groves, Dispersing or Contracting: A Perspective on the Evolutionary History and Population Conservation of Musk Deer, American Journal of Life Sciences. Vol. 4, No. 2, 2016, pp. 20-30. doi: 10.11648/j.ajls.20160402.12
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