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Mistralestes, new eutherian mammal from Cretaceous of France

From: Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Rodolphe Tabuce, Thierry Tortosa, Monique Vianey-Liaud, Géraldine
Garcia, Renaud Lebrun, Pascal Godefroit, Yves Dutour, Sévérine Berton,
Xavier Valentin and Gilles Cheylan (2013)
New eutherian mammals from the Late Cretaceous of Aix-en-Provence
Basin, south-eastern France.
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 169(3): 653–672
DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12074

In Europe, the fossil record of Late Cretaceous eutherian mammals is
very poor, being limited to only three genera (Labes, Lainodon, and
Valentinella). Labes and Lainodon are well-supported members of
Zhelestidae, a stem eutherian clade, whereas Valentinella is more
problematic, being recently considered as a nomen dubium. Based on
X-ray computed microtomography scan analysis of the holotype and
thanks to the discovery of new specimens from the type locality
(Vitrolles-La Plaine, south-eastern France, late Maastrichtian), we
reassessed Valentinella. This genus is unique by the association of an
enlarged and rounded jaw angle with an assumed relatively elevated
angular process, a bulbous protoconid and an unbasined heel on p4, a
p5 with a wide molariform talonid and a hypoflexid, a robust molar
morphology with a potential specialized crushing-grinding function
(bulbously constructed cusps, large talonid, and horizontal apical
wear facet of the hypocone), a somewhat reduced m3 relative to m2, a
premolariform ?P3 or ?P4 lacking a metacone, and a relatively large
hypocone on upper molars. These characters reinstate Valentinella as a
valid genus. We also describe Mistralestes arcensis gen. et sp. nov.
from a newly discovered locality (La Cairanne-Highway, south-eastern
France, late Campanian). Mistralestes is defined by a robust
premolariform p5 with no cingulid, paraconid, or metaconid; molars
with a transverse protocristid, a gradual compression of the trigonid
from m1 to m3, and paracristid and protocristid probably confluent on
m3. Based on comparisons and phylogenetic analyses, Valentinella and
Mistralestes may belong to Zhelestidae but this systematic attribution
remains poorly supported.