Swiss Journal of Palaeontology

, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 11–22 | Cite as

Coryphodon, the northernmost Holarctic Paleogene pantodont (Mammalia), and its global wanderings

  • Mary R. DawsonEmail author


The pantodont Coryphodon is a frequently found component of early Eocene terrestrial faunas in North America, distributed widely from the Arctic to the Gulf Coast. The most northerly member of this genus of large herbivore is a new species that appears to be closest to the oldest known mid-latitude species, Coryphodon proterus from the Clarkforkian (Cf-2), late Paleocene, of Montana. Coryphodon is widely distributed during the early Eocene across the Holarctic, occurring also in England, Belgium, and France (MP7-9, early Eocene) on the one hand and Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China (Gashatan-Bumbanian, late Paleocene-early Eocene, Xinjiang, Shandong, and Shanxi) on the other. Although other genera of Coryphodontidae, as well as of other pantodont families, appear to have had more sedentary habits, Coryphodon is noted for its wide distribution. Adaptations to a warm temperate northern climate, including its northern light regime, may be postulated for this genus of pantodont as well as a pattern of dispersal leading to its wide range across the Holarctic.


Pantodont Coryphodon Eocene Arctic Holarctic distribution 



First, most sincere congratulations are extended to Burkart Engesser, who for many years has been a valued paleontological colleague. With his unfailingly ironic sense of humor, Burkart will appreciate the fact that neither the pantodonts nor the Arctic Eocene investigated here are his major areas of interest or expertise! But, like Coryphodon, Burkart’s career has included significant episodes of global wandering. Jarloo Kiguktak of Grise Fiord kindly and authoritatively provided guidance in the matter of the Inuktitut language. Gregg Gunnell (Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan), Jeremy Hooker (British Museum of Natural History) provided access to specimens and most useful discussions of Holarctic Eocene events, and the paleontologists at the Muséum National de Histoire Naturelle, Paris, were most helpful in making specimens available for comparative study. Members of field crews who added to the collections of Coryphodon included J. J. Eberle, Leo Hickey, J.H. Hutchison, Kirk Johnson, M.C. and P. McKenna, Cliff Morrow, R.M. West. The support of Polar Continental Shelf Project, Canadian Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources, was essential for logistical and other help, always cheerfully provided. The Canadian Museum of Nature furnished curatorial assistance. Research grants from the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration made possible the field investigations on Ellesmere Island. Carnegie Museum’s Mark Klingler assembled the illustrations for this study with his usual competence, and Xianghua Sun furnished valuable bibliographic assistance.


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Copyright information

© Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curator Emeritus, Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural HistoryPittsburghUSA

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