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Temporal range: Middle Cretaceous
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Australosphenida
Family: Ausktribosphenidae
Rich et al., 1997[1]

Ausktribosphenidae is a group name that has been given to some rather puzzling fossils—Ausktribosphenos nyktos and Bishops whitmorei—which[2]

  • Appear to have tribosphenic molars, a type of tooth which is otherwise known only in Therians.
  • Come from mid Cretaceous deposits in Australia - but Australia was connected only to Antarctica, and placentals originated in the northern hemisphere and were confined to it until continental drift formed land connections from North America to South America, from Asia to Africa and from Asia to India. The late Cretaceous map[3] shows how the southern continents are separated.
  • Are represented only by skull and jaw fragments, which are not very helpful.

Ausktribosphenidae and monotremes have been assigned to the larger group Australosphenida. But Australosphenida is a group which has been defined only in order to include the Ausktribosphenidae and monotremes[citation needed] - in other words, it may be just a fiction, unless someone finds a fossil which can sensibly be described as a "basal australosphenid" (member of the Australosphenida which belongs to neither Ausktribosphenidae nor monotremes).


  1. ^ Rich, Thomas H.; Vickers-Rich, Patricia; Constantine, Andrew; Flannery, Timothy F.; Kool, Lesley; van Klaveren, Nicholas (1997). "A Tribosphenic Mammal from the Mesozoic of Australia". Science. 278 (5342): 1438–1442. doi:10.1126/science.278.5342.1438. JSTOR 2894756. 
  2. ^ "Mammalia - Palaeos". Archived from the original on 2007-04-12. 
  3. ^ Christopher R. Scotese. "New Oceans Begin to Open". Paleomap project. Retrieved 20 September 2010.