A new spalacotheriid symmetrodont from the early Cretaceous of northeastern China. American Museum novitates ; no. 3475

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New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History
Symmetrodonts are Mesozoic mammals having lower molars with nearly symmetrical trigonids but lacking talonids. They appear to be stem members of the mammalian clade that led to extant tribosphenic mammals, but the fossil record of symmetrodonts is poor. Here we report a new genus and species of an acute-angled spalacotheriid symmetrodont, Heishanlestes changi, n.gen. and n.sp., represented by well-preserved lower jaws with teeth from the early Cretaceous of northeastern China. The new mammal has four tightly spaced premolars and three morphological groups of lower molars, in which the first molar has an obtuse trigonid angle and the last two molars have a large neomorphic cusp in the center of the trigonid, a feature not seen in other mammals. Heishanlestes appears to be a specialized member of the spalacotheriid subfamily, Spalacolestinae, which is otherwise only known from North America. The animal probably used the premolars to crush its prey before shearing it with the molars.
20 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 18-20).