The postcranial skeleton of early Oligocene Leptictis Mammalia: Leptictida), with a preliminary comparison to Leptictidium from the middle Eocene of Messel

Kenneth D. Rose

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A substantially complete, articulated skeleton of Leptictis from early Oligocene (Orellan) sediments of the White River Formation of Wyoming is described and compared with Eocene leptictids and with the Messel pseudorhyncocyonid Leptictidium. Leptictis exhibits multiple skeletal features indicative of cursorial and possibly occasional saltatorial locomotion, and appears to have been slightly more specialized in this direction than were Eocene leptictids. Features suggestive of this behavior include fusion of the tibia and fibula for slightly more than half their length, relatively very long hind limbs and short forelimbs (intermembral index = 61), modification of limb joints to restrict motion to a parasagittal plane, and a flexible lumbar region. Like earlier leptictids, Leptictis also maintained digging function of the forelimbs, as reflected by the well-developed scapular spine and acromion, moderately robust humerus, prominent olecranon, and metacarpal extensor tubercles. Leptictidium resembles Leptictis in much of the skeleton, supporting a close relationship between Pseudorhyncocyonidae and Leptictidae. It differs from Leptictis in having relatively more reduced forelimbs (a derived trait) and an unfused tibia and fibula (primitive), which suggests that the two families were already separate by the early Paleocene (Puercan land-mammal age). Leptictidium was probably ricochetal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalaeontographica, Abteilung A
Subtitle of host publicationPalaozoologie - Stratigraphie
PublisherE. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung
Pages37-56
Number of pages20
Edition1-6
ISBN (Print)3510652118, 9783510652112
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Publication series

NamePalaeontographica, Abteilung A: Palaozoologie - Stratigraphie
Number1-6
Volume278
ISSN (Print)0375-0442

Keywords

  • Early oligocene
  • Leptictidium
  • Leptictis
  • Messel
  • White river formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology

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