What’s in a Name? When Forstercooperia is Really Uintaceras – #365papers – 2017 – 99

#365papers for April 9, 2017

Holbrook and Lucas, 1997, A new genus of rhinocerotoid from the Eocene of Utah and the status of North American “Forstercooperia: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 17, p. 384-396.

What’s it about?

A new genus of rhino-like mammal (Uintaceras) from the Eocene of the Uinta Basin is named. Previously, specimens from the Uinta Basin species have been called Forstercooperia, which is otherwise known from Asia. The authors describe a complete skull of Uintaceras which is clearly different from the Asian Forstercooperia. The molar teeth from both Forstercooperia and Uintaceras are not easily distinguished, which is why the Uinta Basin species was called Forstercooperia for so long.

Why does it matter?

Incorrect identification of species can result in misinterpretations of evolutionary relationships and also of ancient geography and dispersal of fossil species. This is why taxonomy (the identification and naming of species) is an important fundamental basis for all of paleontology.

Why did I read this?

I’m doing research on Uintan-age mammals. Forstercooperia/Uintaceras are among them.

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