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Vintana, new large gondwanatherian mammal from Cretaceous of Madagascar

Ben Creisler

Online in Nature:

David W. Krause, Simone Hoffmann, John R. Wible, E. Christopher Kirk,
Julia A. Schultz, Wighart von Koenigswald, Joseph R. Groenke, James B.
Rossie, Patrick M. O’Connor, Erik R. Seiffert, Elizabeth R. Dumont,
Waymon L. Holloway, Raymond R. Rogers, Lydia J. Rahantarisoa, Addison
D. Kemp & Haingoson Andriamialison (2014)
First cranial remains of a gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism.
Nature (advance online publication)

Previously known only from isolated teeth and lower jaw fragments
recovered from the Cretaceous and Palaeogene of the Southern
Hemisphere, the Gondwanatheria constitute the most poorly known of all
major mammaliaform radiations. Here we report the discovery of the
first skull material of a gondwanatherian, a complete and
well-preserved cranium from Upper Cretaceous strata in Madagascar that
we assign to a new genus and species. Phylogenetic analysis strongly
supports its placement within Gondwanatheria, which are recognized as
monophyletic and closely related to multituberculates, an
evolutionarily successful clade of Mesozoic mammals known almost
exclusively from the Northern Hemisphere. The new taxon is the largest
known mammaliaform from the Mesozoic of Gondwana. Its craniofacial
anatomy reveals that it was herbivorous, large-eyed and agile, with
well-developed high-frequency hearing and a keen sense of smell. The
cranium exhibits a mosaic of primitive and derived features, the
disparity of which is extreme and probably reflective of a long
evolutionary history in geographic isolation.


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