From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Temporal range: Early-Late Oligocene
Desmostylus ROM.jpg
Desmostylus, Royal Ontario Museum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Eutheria
Superorder: Afrotheria
Order: Desmostylia
Family: Desmostylidae
Osborn 1905

Desmostylidae is an extinct family of herbivorous marine mammals belonging to the order of Desmostylia. They lived along the coast of the northern Pacific Ocean from the Early Oligocene (Rupelian) through the Late Oligocene (Chattian) (33.9 mya—23.0 Mya)[citation needed] existing for approximately 13.9 million years.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Desmostylidae was named by Osborn 1905. It was assigned to Sirenia by Osborn (1905); to Proboscidea by Abel (1919); to Desmostyliformes by Simpson (1932), Kretzoi (1941) and Reinhart (1959); to Desmostylia by McKenna and Bell (1997); and to Desmostylia by Carroll (1988), Inuzuka et al. (1995), Inuzuka (2000) and Barnes and Goedert (2001).[1]

Cockburn & Beatty 2009 found an subadult specimen of Behemotops proteus on Vancouver Island in 2007. They noted that (1) the cranial features of their specimen were similar to those of Cornwallius and that (2) the adult dentition was not delayed in their specimen, unlike in Desmostylus and other Afrotheria, and they concluded that (1) Desmostylidae and Paleoparadoxiidae probably diverged earlier than previously believed and that (2) delayed dentition can not be the most primitive state of Desmostylia.[2]


Classification after McKenna & Bell 1997:[3]


  1. ^ Desmostylidae in the Paleobiology Database. Retrieved May 2013.
  2. ^ Cockburn & Beatty 2009, Abstract
  3. ^ "Family †Desmostylidae". Systema Naturae 2000. Retrieved May 2013.