Thomas H. Rich, James A. Hopson, Pamela G. Gill, Peter Trusler, Sally Rogers-Davidson, Steve Morton, Richard L. Cifelli, David Pickering, Lesley Kool, Karen Siu, Flame A. Burgmann, Tim Senden, Alistair R. Evans, Barbara E. Wagstaff, Doris Seegets-Villiers, Ian J. Corfe, Timothy F. Flannery, Ken Walker, Anne M. Musser, Michael Archer, Rebecca Pian & Patricia Vickers-Rich (2016)
The mandible and dentition of the Early Cretaceous monotreme Teinolophos trusleri.
Alcheringa (advance online publication)
The monotreme Teinolophos trusleri Rich, Vickers-Rich, Constantine, Flannery, Kool & van Klaveren, 1999 from the Early Cretaceous of Australia is redescribed and reinterpreted here in light of additional specimens of that species and compared with the exquisitely preserved Early Cretaceous mammals from Liaoning Province, China. Together, this material indicates that although T. trusleri lacked a rod of postdentary bones contacting the dentary, as occurs in non-mammalian cynodonts and basal mammaliaforms, it did not share the condition present in all living mammals, including monotremes, of having the three auditory ossicles, which directly connect the tympanic membrane to the fenestra ovalis, being freely suspended within the middle ear cavity. Rather, T. trusleri appears to have had an intermediate condition, present in some Early Cretaceous mammals from Liaoning, in which the postdentary bones cum ear ossicles retained a connection to a persisting Meckel’s cartilage although not to the dentary. Teinolophos thus indicates that the condition of freely suspended auditory ossicles was acquired independently in monotremes and therian mammals. Much of the anterior region of the lower jaw of Teinolophos is now known, along with an isolated upper ultimate premolar. The previously unknown anterior region of the jaw is elongated and delicate as in extant monotremes, but differs in having at least seven antemolar teeth, which are separated by distinct diastemata. The dental formula of the lower jaw of Teinolophos trusleri as now known is i2 c1 p4 m5. Both the deep lower jaw and the long-rooted upper premolar indicate that Teinolophos, unlike undoubted ornithorhynchids (including the extinct Obdurodon), lacked a bill.