Wednesday, January 8, 2014

[PaleoMammalogy • 2014] Dormaalocyon latouri • Dental and Tarsal Anatomy of ‘Miacislatouri and a Phylogenetic Analysis of the Earliest carnivoraforms (Mammalia, Carnivoramorpha) from the Eocene of Dormaal, Belgium

Dormaalocyon latouri (Quinet, 1966)
Art by Charlène Letenneur (MNHN) and 
Pascale Golinvaux (RBINS)

One of the earliest basal carnivoraforms, Miacis latouri, previously known by only two teeth from the earliest Eocene of Dormaal, Belgium, is here described based on about 280 new specimens from Dormaal, allowing illustration of almost the entire deciduous and permanent dentition and thus giving information on the dentition of an early basal carnivoraform species and its variability. Based on the dental features, we refer the species to a new genus, Dormaalocyon. We identify possible sexual dimorphism in D. latouri that is less pronounced than in Uintacyon rudis. We also describe for the first time the tarsal bones (calcaneum and astragalus) of D. latouri; these indicate arboreal capabilities for this species. In order to ascertain the position of Dormaalocyon among basal carnivoraforms, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of the carnivoramorphans. Among basal carnivoraforms, three groups are recovered: the Uintacyon group, Oodectes group, and the Vulpavus group. Dormalocyon is one of the most primitive carnivoraforms and is closely related to North American Vulpavus and Miacis species. We propose that the two latter genera are North American with an ancestry that involves the European Dormaalocyon; this implies a dispersal of carnivoraforms from Europe to North America near the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Finally, the topology of the phylogenetic tree supports a Paleocene radiation of the carnivoraforms, which is presently unknown.

CARNIVORAMORPHA Wyss and Flynn, 1993
CARNIVORAFORMES Flynn, Finarelli, and Spaulding, 2010

Dormaalocyon  gen. nov.
Type Species: Dormaalocyon latouri (Quinet, 1966), comb. nov.
Localities: Dormaal (Flemish Brabant), Belgium; earliest Eocene, MP7.

Etymology: From Dormaal, type locality of the species; from Greek Kyon, dog.
Dormaalocyon latouri (Quinet, 1966), comb. nov.
[Miacis latouri Quinet, 1966]

FIGURE 1 Dentaries of Dormaalocyon latouri (Quinet, 1966), comb. nov.


Floréal Solé, Richard Smith, Tiphaine Coillot, Eric de Bast & Thierry Smith. 2014. Dental and Tarsal Anatomy of ‘Miacislatouri and a Phylogenetic Analysis of the Earliest carnivoraforms (Mammalia, Carnivoramorpha). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 34:1, 1-21. 

New Fossils Shed Light On the Origins of Lions, Tigers, and Bears
 — New fossils from Belgium have shed light on the origin of some of the most well-known, and well-loved, modern mammals. Cats and dogs, as well as other carnivorous mammals (like bears, seals, and weasels), taxonomically called 'carnivoraformes', trace their ancestry to primitive carnivorous mammals dating back to 55 million years ago (the beginning of the time period called the Eocene). A study, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, discusses the origins of this group and describes new specimens of one of the earliest of these primitive taxa.