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*Fruitafossor*



Through dark, albeit not hideous, channels I have acquired a pdf of the description of *Fruitafossor*. It's almost cute how strongly the authors emphasize _twice at every occasion_ that *F.* is not a xenarthran or anything remotely similar; that's because *F.* falls between the error margins of the ludicrous divergence time estimate for Xenarthra vs. other placentals calculated by Kumar & Hedges in 1998 (129 +- 18.5 Ma ago).

Pangolins, palaeanodonts, *Eurotamandua* and *Ernanodon* (a particularly mysterious Paleocene mammal from China that's sometimes suspected to be a xenarthran) are mentioned in the supplementary information. They all lack the tremendous list of plesiomorphies that *F.* retains. (On the other hand, it isn't mentioned that basal palaeanodonts, like *Arcticanodon* which was mentioned onlist today, have a more plesiomorphic dentition than *F.*, for example retaining two-rooted cheek teeth!)

I can't hazard a guess about whether the middle ear was still connected to the lower jaw (as the authors infer) or if the Meckelian groove just housed a big splenial. However, the vestigial angular process is interesting -- that's exactly how the missing link between the australosphenidan grade (bigger angular process) and the triconodont-multituberculate grade (no trace of an angular process) is supposed to look like! :-)

To answer my own questions, yes, it's the metacoracoid, and yes, epipubes are at least reconstructed...

The retention of lumbar ribs is especially impressive.

The hands are weird. Except for the phalangeal formula they look so unmammalian. Like a turtle's, sort of (though there again it wouldn't fit that the 5th finger is completely gone). Only six carpals!

Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! There. I said it. Twice. :-)

If only I could think of an April Fools joke... somehow I'm not so imaginative this year...