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Early Eocene rodents (Mammalia) from the Subathu Formation of type area (Himachal Pradesh), NW sub-Himalaya, India: Palaeobiogeographic implications

Abstract

Based on isolated upper cheek teeth, two new early Eocene rodents (Subathumys solanorius gen. et sp. nov. and Subathumys globulus gen. et sp. nov.) and three others (Birbalomys cf. sondaari, Birbalomys sp., cf. Chapattimys sp.) are recorded from the lower–middle part of the Subathu Formation of the type area in Himachal Pradesh, northwestern sub-Himalaya (India). The new rodents exhibit morphological features most similar to the unified ctenodactyloid family Chapattimyidae (including Yuomyidae), which is also represented in the assemblage from the upper part (middle Eocene) of the Subathu Formation. The associated lower cheek teeth are provisionally described as three indeterminate chapattimyid taxa. The new Subathu rodents are somewhat younger than the previously documented early Eocene assemblages from the Indian subcontinent, and are chronologically intermediate between the early Eocene ailuravines from Gujarat in the western peninsular India and the middle Eocene chapattimyids from northwestern India and Pakistan. They suggest that chapattimyids originated in the sub-Himalayan region during the Ypresian, which is earlier than previously believed. The absence of ailuravines in this as well as younger rodent assemblages from the subcontinent seems to suggest that ailuravines (Ischyromyidae), within a relatively short time after their appearance in the peninsular India in the early Eocene, may have been replaced by the indigenous chapattimyids. The co-occurrence in the early Eocene Subathu assemblage of three or more chapattimyids indicates their early radiation and dominance during the early and middle Eocene. This record of rodents opens the possibility of recovery of other small mammal remains in older levels of the Subathu Formation, which will be important for understanding linkage with early Eocene faunas from peninsular India, Europe and North America.

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Acknowledgements

Authors are thankful to Ashok Sahni (Panjab University, Chandigarh), J-L Hartenberger, M Vianey-Liaud and Laurent Marivaux (University of Montpellier) and Giles Escarguel (University of Lyone 1) for commenting on the fossil material. They also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and useful suggestions which improved the paper. Director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun provided various facilities for this research. SEM micrographs were made at the WIHG.

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Gupta, S., Kumar, K. Early Eocene rodents (Mammalia) from the Subathu Formation of type area (Himachal Pradesh), NW sub-Himalaya, India: Palaeobiogeographic implications. J Earth Syst Sci 124, 1201–1221 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-015-0607-4

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Keywords

  • Mammalia
  • Rodentia
  • Chapattimyidae
  • Eocene
  • Subathu Formation
  • India