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Re: Necrolestes (was Re: mesosaurus)



<<I'm not even sure that necrolestids are even considered marsupials by all
researchers, though they are superficially mole-like.>>

For what it's worth, I've got an entry for Necrolestes, and the main part
reads:

<<This was a highly specialized and utterly peculiar animal which is placed
alone in its own family, and lived about 17 million years ago. It's also
said to have been first published in 1894, but Simpson blames Florentino
Ameghino in 1891. Ameghino had some unusual opinions concerning the
affinities of South American fossil mammals, but there wasn't that much to
compare them with at the time. He believed this genus represented an
insectivore derived from marsupial ancestors, and accused it of giving rise
to all insectivores. The marsup part of the story was correct.
Further skulls, jaws and pieces of skeleton were collected by Hatcher, and
were then described by Scott in 1905. He (erroneously) cancelled marsupial
affinities and sought to ally the animal with the golden moles of South
Africa. There are similarities, but these appear to be the results of
similar lifestyles. In 1958, Patterson re-examined some specimens in
Princeton using instruments which hadn't previously been available.
Necrolestes resumed being seen as a marsupial, and very tentative
connections with borhyaenids were mooted. However, this wasn't based on
anything substantial.
The creature had a skull of around 3.5cm in length, a naturally up-turned
nose and lots of incisors, (five per side up and four down). The canines
were sharp and the molars had triangular crowns. The front legs indicate a
mole-like burrower.>>

That's based on: Simpson GG (1980), Splendid Isolation, The Curious History
of South American Mammals, Yale University Press, (p.77-78).  There may of
course have been some developments in the past quarter of a century.
Cheers
Trevor

Mesozoic Eucynodonts
http://home.arcor.de/ktdykes/meseucaz.htm
The Mesozoic - more than just the dinosaur