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The oldest modern therian mammal from Europe and its bearing on stem marsupial paleobiogeography

Abstract : We report the discovery of mammalian tribosphenic teeth from the basal Cenomanian of southwestern France that we refer to a new primitive marsupial-like form identified as a basal taxon of Mar- supialiformes, a new clade recognized here to include the crown group Marsupialia and primitive stem lineages more closely related to Marsupialia than to Deltatheroida. Arcantiodelphys marchandi gen et sp nov. shares several significant marsupial-like features (s.l.) with marsupialiform taxa known from the North American Mid-Cretaceous. Among marsupialiforms, it shows a closer resem-blance to Dakotadens. This resemblance, which is plesiomorphic within ''tribotherians,'' makes Arcantiodelphys one of the most archaic known Marsupialiformes. Moreover, Arcantiodelphys is characterized by an original and precocious crushing specialization. Both the plesiomorphic and autapomorphic characteristics of Arcantiodelphys among Marsupialiformes might be explained by an Eastern origin from Asian stem metatherians, with some in situ European evolution. In addition, the presence of a mammal with North American affinities in western Europe during the early Late Cretaceous provides further evidence of a large Euramerican bio-geographical province at this age or slightly before. Concerning the paleobiogeographical history of the first stem marsupialiforms during the Albian­Cenomanian interval, 2 possible dispersal routes from an Asian metatherian ancestry can be proposed: Asia to Europe via North America and Asia to North America via Europe. The main significance of the Archingeay-Les Nouillers mammal discovery is that it indicates that the beginning of the stem marsupialiforms history involved not only North America but also Europe, and that this early history in Europe remains virtually unknown.
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Romain Vullo, E. Gheerbrant, Chri Muizon, Didier Neraudeau. The oldest modern therian mammal from Europe and its bearing on stem marsupial paleobiogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2009, 106 (47), pp.19910-19915. ⟨10.1073/pnas.0902940106⟩. ⟨insu-00562467⟩

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