Monday, December 29, 2014

Week of Vintana: Sudamericid Gondwanatherian Mammal Vtiana Lived in Seasonal, Semiarid Coastal Floodplain of Maastrichtian Cretaceous Madagascar

Introduction, Systematic Paleontology, and Geological Context of Vintana Sertichi (Mammalia, Gondwanatheria) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar


Krause et al


Vintana sertichi is a sudamericid gondwanatherian mammal known only from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Maevarano Formation in the Mahajanga Basin of northwestern Madagascar. It is based on a single specimen, a well-preserved and virtually complete cranium discovered in 2010 near Lac Kinkony. The cranium is superficially bizarre and constitutes the only cranial remains of the poorly known, phylogenetically enigmatic Gondwanatheria, which are otherwise known only from isolated teeth and fragmentary dentaries. Gondwanatheria are represented by seven other monotypic genera assigned to two families (Ferugliotheriidae and Sudamericidae). Historically, this clade was assigned to Xenarthra, Paratheria (as a sister group to Xenarthra), Multituberculata, Allotheria (as a sister group to Multituberculata), Mammalia incertae sedis, and, most recently, back to Multituberculata or a close relative of Multituberculata. The craniodental evidence provided by Vintana supports inclusion in Sudamericidae, the monophyly of Gondwanatheria, and the position of Gondwanatheria as nested within or sister to Multituberculata. In addition to briefly reviewing the taxonomic composition and phylogenetic history of Gondwanatheria, this introductory chapter sets the stage for the other chapters in the volume by (1) briefly summarizing the inferred life habits of gondwanatherians; (2) reviewing the systematic paleontology of V. sertichi; and (3) providing overviews of the discovery of the holotypic specimen, its preservation, its preparation, and the imaging and measurement techniques used to study it. The chapter closes with an overview of the geological context of V. sertichi, which indicates that the species lived in a coastal floodplain environment and in a highly seasonal, semiarid climate.

No comments: