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ORIGINAL PAPER Protungulatum, Confirmed Cretaceous Occurrence

Protungulatum, Confirmed Cretaceous Occurrence
of an Otherwise Paleocene Eutherian (Placental?) Mammal
J. David Archibald & Yue Zhang & Tony Harper &
Richard L. Cifelli
# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Abstract Neither pre-Cenozoic crown eutherian mammals
(placentals) nor archaic ungulates ("condylarths") are
known with certainty based on the fossil record. Herein
we report a new species of the Paleocene archaic ungulate
("condylarth") Protungulatum from undisputed Late Creta-
ceous aged rocks in Montana USA based on an isolated last
upper premolar, indicating rare representatives of these
common early Tertiary mammals appeared in North
America a minimum of 300 k years before the extinction
of non-avian dinosaurs. The other 1200 mammal specimens
from the locality are characteristic Late Cretaceous taxa.
This discovery overturns the current hypothesis that archaic
ungulates did not appear in North America until after the
Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary and also suggests that


Source: Archibald, J. David - Department of Biology, San Diego State University


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Geosciences