The recent and fossil affinities of the genus Pedetes (Mammalia: Rodentia)
An assessment is given of some of the possible relationships of the living rodent genus Pedetes, based on a study of the comparative osteology of both living and fossil forms in the Family Pedetidae. A short examination of the views of previous authors on the position of Pedetes and the Family Pedetidae is given and the basic methodology, used in this study, is outlined. The view is put forward that, in a group containing a high proportion of fossil members, only osteological characters can be used in assessing relationships as only these characters can potentially be investigated directly in all members of the group. A description is given of the skeleton of Pedetes surdaster and contrasting points in the skeleton of Pedetes capensis, the other living species, are listed. Descriptions are also given of fossil material including Megapedetes pentadactylus, Parapedetes namaquensis, a new species of the genus Pedetes from Laetoli and fragmentary material from a number of sites including Rusinga, Fort Ternan, Maboko, Olduvai Gorge, Taung, Arrisdrift and Elisabethfeld. These descriptions are accompanied by figures, illustrating some of the material, and extensive tables, containing measurements. An analysis, based on cladistic methodology, divides the Family Pedetidae into two subfamilies: one, Subfamily Parapedetinae, contains only the species Parapedetes namaquensis the other, Subfamily Pedetinae, contains all the other named species, four species of Pedetes - surdaster, capensis, gracilis (from Taung) and the new species from Laetoli - and Megapedetes pentadactylus. Material of Megapedetes augaeus has not been examined but on the basis of the published description its validity must remain doubtful. Much of the fragmentary material has not been ascribed to any of the named forms but appears to represent at least two further species. Consideration is also given to possible functional interpretations of some characters.