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Puercolestes and Betonnia (Cimolestidae, Mammalia) from the early Paleocene (Puercan 3 Interval Zone) of northeastern Montana, U.S.A.


In northeastern Montana, fossil localities in the Garbani Channel Complex and other early Paleocene (Puercan 3 Interval Zone) localities are preserved in the Tullock Member of the Fort Union Formation. They document an early phase in the recovery of the terrestrial fauna of the North American Western Interior after the mass extinction marking the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary. The cimolestids Puercolestes simpsoni and Betonnia tsosia were typified on fragmentary jaws and isolated teeth found in Puercan 2 and 3 Interval Zones (Pu2, Pu3) in the Nacimiento Formation, San Juan Basin, New Mexico. The available samples of these genera from both New Mexico and Montana are small and dominantly consist of isolated teeth. Characters of upper cheek teeth, P4 and M1–M3, justify provisional recognition of Puercolestes sp. cf. Pu. simpsoni and the somewhat smaller Betonnia sp. cf. Be. tsosia in Pu3 local faunas in the Tullock Member. In contrast, discovery of characters distinguishing the isolated lower cheek teeth, p4s and m1–m3s, of these species must await recovery of dentulous dentaries documenting the patterns of morphological variation of their lower dentitions. Fossils from the Tullock Member add support to the current interpretation that cimolestids were taxonomically diverse and geographically widespread but relatively rare members of the faunas of the North American Western Interior during approximately the first million years of the Paleocene.

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