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Re: [dinosaur] Maiopatagium and Vilevolodon, new gliding mammaliaforms from Jurassic of China

For a bit of context, a free publication from a few years back that might be of interest:

Stephen M Jackson & Richard W. Thorington, Jr. (2012)
Gliding Mammals: Taxonomy of Living and Extinct Species.
Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 638 (117 pp.)
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810282.638.1

There are 64 species of extant gliding mammals that are currently recognized, which are divided into six different families. These comprise eight species of gliding marsupials that live within Australasia and include six species of lesser gliding possums of Petaurus (family Petauridae), one species of greater glider of Petauroides (family Pseudocheiridae), and one species of feathertail glider of Acrobates (family Acrobatidae). The flying squirrels of the tribe Pteromyini within the rodent family Sciuridae represent the greatest diversity of gliding mammals, with a total of 48 species in 15 genera currently recognized, and occur throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A second group of gliding rodents, known as the scaly-tailed flying squirrels, comprises six species from the family Anomaluridae that live in central and western Africa. The most specialized and unique of the extant gliding mammals are the enigmatic colugos, or flying lemurs, of the order Dermoptera that comprise two species and occur throughout Southeast Asia and the Philippines. In addition to the extant species there are various fossils of extinct species that are thought to have had an ability to glide, although there has been a lot of debate over most of these taxa. These fossil taxa include 3 marsupials, 18 dermopterans, 51 flying squirrels, 7 species of scaly-tailed flying squirrels, and 1 extinct species in each of the families Myoxidae, Eomyidae, and Volaticotheriidae. The taxonomic status of many living and extinct gliding mammals is still in a state of flux, and significant further revision of the taxonomic status of many groups still needs to be resolved.

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On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 10:20 AM, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:

Ben Creisler

New papers (the supplementary information  is free):

Also, interview audio clip


Maiopatagium furculiferum gen. nov. & spec. nov.

Qing-Jin Meng, David M. Grossnickle, Di Liu, Yu-Guang Zhang, April I. Neander, Qiang Ji & Zhe-Xi Luo (2017)
New gliding mammaliaforms from the Jurassic.
Nature (advance online publication)

Stem mammaliaforms are Mesozoic forerunners to mammals, and they offer critical evidence for the anatomical evolution and ecological diversification during the earliest mammalian history. Two new eleutherodonts from the Late Jurassic period have skin membranes and skeletal features that are adapted for gliding. Characteristics of their digits provide evidence of roosting behaviour, as in dermopterans and bats, and their feet have a calcaneal calcar to support the uropagatium as in bats. The new volant taxa are phylogenetically nested with arboreal eleutherodonts. Together, they show an evolutionary experimentation similar to the iterative evolutions of gliders within arboreal groups of marsupial and placental mammals. However, gliding eleutherodonts possess rigid interclavicle–clavicle structures, convergent to the avian furculum, and they retain shoulder girdle plesiomorphies of mammaliaforms and monotremes. Forelimb mobility required by gliding occurs at the acromion–clavicle and glenohumeral joints, is different from and convergent to the shoulder mobility at the pivotal clavicle–sternal joint in marsupial and placental gliders.


Vilevolodon diplomylos gen. nov. & spec. nov.

Zhe-Xi Luo, Qing-Jin Meng, David M. Grossnickle, Di Liu, April I. Neander, Yu-Guang Zhang & Qiang Ji (2017)
New evidence for mammaliaform ear evolution and feeding adaptation in a Jurassic ecosystem.
Nature (advance online publication)

Stem mammaliaforms are forerunners to modern mammals, and they achieved considerable ecomorphological diversity in their own right. Recent discoveries suggest that eleutherodontids, a subclade of Haramiyida, were more species-rich during the Jurassic period in Asia than previously recognized. Here we report a new Jurassic eleutherodontid mammaliaform with an unusual mosaic of highly specialized characteristics, and the results of phylogenetic analyses that support the hypothesis that haramiyidans are stem mammaliaforms. The new fossil shows fossilized skin membranes that are interpreted to be for gliding and a mandibular middle ear with a unique character combination previously unknown in mammaliaforms. Incisor replacement is prolonged until well after molars are fully erupted, a timing pattern unique to most other mammaliaforms. In situ molar occlusion and a functional analysis reveal a new mode of dental occlusion: dual mortar–pestle occlusion of opposing upper and lower molars, probably for dual crushing and grinding. This suggests that eleutherodontids are herbivorous, and probably specialized for granivory or feeding on soft plant tissues. The inferred dietary adaptation of eleutherodontid gliders represents a remarkable evolutionary convergence with herbivorous gliders in Theria. These Jurassic fossils represent volant, herbivorous stem mammaliaforms associated with pre-angiosperm plants that appear long before the later, iterative associations between angiosperm plants and volant herbivores in various therian clades.