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Prodiacodon crustulum (Leptictidae, Mammalia) from the Tullock Member of the Fort Union Formation, Garfield and McCone Counties, Montana, USA


Since Michael J. Novacek (1977) established Prodiacodon crustulum, the hypodigm of this species has been greatly increased. Currently, over 100 isolated teeth, but only a single dentulous fragment of a dentary, are known. Reconstruction of its dentition has been based on comparisons with the more completely represented dentition of P. puercensis Matthew, 1929, from younger Torrejonian 1-3 North American Land Mammal Age (NALMA) local faunas of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Prodiacodon crustulum is known from the Puercan 3 (NALMA) Garbani Channel and, possibly, Purgatory Hill local faunas in Montana. It differs from P. puercensis in the smaller size of its postcanine dentition and lesser development of minor cusps on the upper and lower molars. Given the uncertainties in reconstruction of its dentition, the new sample adds little toward illustrating the phylogenetic relationships of the species to more recent Paleogene and Neogene leptictids. Recent studies support recognition of the clade Leptictida McKenna, 1975, including the leptictids and the Cretaceous species of Gypsonictops Simpson, 1927. More data are needed to test the hypothesis that P. crustulum is the earliest known representative of the Afrotheria Stanhope et al., 1998.

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