“V” is for Viverravus

“V” is for Viverravus

Another carnivore, Viverravus is rare in Paleocene faunas. We can tell it’s a carnivore due to the shape of its molars. Specifically, the first lower molar and the fourth upper premolar come together in a scissor-like configuration called the carnassial pair.

Close-up of the carnassial pair in Canis lupus, the wolf.

Viverravus has the blade-like lower molar characteristic of carnivores.

Lower jaw of Viverravus

Viverravus is not known from The Breaks, but a related carnivore called Protictis is. I spent some time at the American Museum of Natural History studying specimens of Protictis and drawing sketches. Here’s one:

Sketches of several specimens of Protictis from the American Museum of Natural History
Sketches of several specimens of Protictis from the American Museum of Natural History. Lower molars are drawn above, upper molars are drawn below. They show the characteristic carnivore pattern.

Carnivores are rare in any fossil collection. The fauna from The Breaks is no different with only four teeth out of 800 identified that are known to belong to carnivores.

Part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge.

For 4-25-13

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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