Some New Mammals from Ancient New Mexico – #365papers – 2017 – 85

#365papers for March 26, 2017

Williamson, Brusatte, Secord, and Shelley, 2016, A new taeniolabidoid multituberculate (Mammalia) from the middle Puercan of the Nacimiento Formation, New Mexico, and a revision of taeniolabidoid systematics and phylogeny: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, v. 177, p. 183-208.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses a group of large multituberculates that lived during the Paleocene (approximately 66 – 55 million years ago). Multituberculates, alas, are extinct, but resembled rodents in many ways. They were distinguished by their multi-cusped teeth (that looked a little like Legos) and blade-like premolars.

The right upper fourth premolar of Ptilodus gnomus. Notice the rows of pointed cusps, characteristic of multituberculates.
SEM image of the type specimen of the multituberculate Fractinus palmorem UW 27063 from locality V-90043. This is the blade-like tooth that is also common to multituberculates.

Taeniolabidoids would have been squirrel to marmot sized – as a group much larger than most other multituberculates.

Why does it matter?

Paleontologists often rely on mammals to assign ages to rocks that are 66 million years old or younger. It’s important to have clear definitions of what the different species are. This study also makes it possible to better understand evolutionary relationships between the different species of multituberculate.

Why did I read this?

Hey, they cited my dissertation! The photos above are also from my dissertation. I worked on Paleocene mammals and I continue to be interested, but I needed to read this.

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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