Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 75–91 | Cite as

Rooting Around the Eutherian Family Tree: the Origin and Relations of the Taeniodonta

  • Deborah L. RookEmail author
  • John P. Hunter
Original Paper


Placing early groups into the overall phylogeny of eutherian mammals can be challenging, particularly when the group does not have extant members. We investigated the relationships of the Taeniodonta, an extinct group from the Late Cretaceous through Paleogene of North America. This group has a few purported close relatives, including Cimolestes, Procerberus, and Alveugena, that may form a sequence of ancestors and descendants. The leading hypothesis is that Procerberus gave rise to taeniodonts through Alveugena. We test this hypothesis and analyze relations to known stem and crown Eutheria to determine the place of taeniodonts in eutherian phylogeny. Cladistic analyses were performed using previously published characters and datasets, namely a taeniodont/cimolestid specific dataset and a reanalysis of Wible and colleagues (2009), with added taxa for both. Our studies suggest that taeniodonts arose from Cimolestes through Alveugena, that Procerberus is more distantly related to taeniodonts, and that taeniodonts and their relatives are stem eutherians. We diagnose the Taeniodonta based on these analyses. Other Paleogene groups, especially those allied with Cimolestes such as tillodonts and pantolestans, merit further study. Our findings indicate that stem eutherians such as the Taeniodonta, in addition to crown eutherians, continued to diversify during the Paleogene.


Taeniodonta Cimolestes Alveugena Procerberus Eutheria 



This work was submitted by D. Rook, formerly D. Weinstein, in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Science at The Ohio State University under the supervision of J. P. Hunter. We thank J. W. Wenzel for help on cladistic analyses. We also thank J. Galkin of the American Museum of Natural History and M. Brett-Surman of the National Museum of Natural History for access to collections. We thank R. Asher and especially J. Wible for extensive discussion of their character matrix and cladistic analyses. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on our manuscript. The Ohio State University, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, supported this work through a University Fellowship and a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal BiologyOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal BiologyOhio State University- NewarkNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeoscienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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