, Volume 93, Issue 8, pp 407–411 | Cite as

Asian gliriform origin for arctostylopid mammals

  • Pieter Missiaen
  • Thierry Smith
  • Dian-Yong Guo
  • Jonathan I. Bloch
  • Philip D. Gingerich
Short Communication


Arctostylopids are common in Late Palaeocene and Early Eocene mammal faunas of Asia, but they are rare in North America. From the time of their first discovery, arctostylopids were grouped with the strictly endemic South American Notoungulata based on their strikingly similar dental morphology. This relationship was challenged based on dental morphology of more recently discovered arctostylopids and on supposed tarsal morphology (based on unassociated material) of the Asian arctostylopid Palaeostylops. Therefore, Arctostylopidae were placed in a separate order, Arctostylopida, of enigmatic affinities. Many authors, however, continue to unite Arctostylopidae and Notoungulata based on dental similarities. In the Late Palaeocene Subeng site in Inner Mongolia, we identified the Palaeostylops tarsals based on their size and abundance. This identification is supported by comparison to unpublished Arctostylops tarsals from the North American Clarkforkian, derived from a semi-articulated skeleton also including dental material. Tarsal morphology shows moderate similarity to the gliriform Pseudictops, and strong resemblance to the tarsally conservative gliroid Rhombomylus. Hence, Arctostylopidae may best be grouped with Asian non-gliroid Gliriformes, which we interpret as having dispersed into North America in the Late Palaeocene.


Dental Material Dental Morphology Dental Formula Elephant Shrew Biogeographic Implication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Christian de Muizon (MNHN, France), Peter Kondrashov (NMSU, USA) and Lilian Bergqvist (UFRJ, Brazil) for the discussions and access to reference materials. At the RBINS, Julien Cillis produced the SEM micrographs, and Stephane Berton prepared the drawings. This work was financially supported by projects MO/36/011 and BL/36/C12 of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (TS) and by the RF-Flanders (PM).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pieter Missiaen
    • 1
  • Thierry Smith
    • 2
  • Dian-Yong Guo
    • 3
  • Jonathan I. Bloch
    • 4
  • Philip D. Gingerich
    • 5
  1. 1.Research Unit PaleontologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PaleontologyRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)BrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Natural SciencesInner Mongolian Museum (IMM)HohhotChina
  4. 4.Florida Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Geological Sciences and Museum of PaleontologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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