Didymictis

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Didymictis
Temporal range: 58.7–40.4 Ma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
(unranked): Carnivoramorpha
Superfamily: Miacoidea
Family: Viverravidae
Genus: Didymictis
Cope 1875
Species[1]

D. altidens
Cope 1880a
D. leptomylus
Cope 1880b
D. protenus (type)
Cope 1874
D. proteus
Polly 1997
D. vancleveae
Robinson 1966

Didymictis is an extinct genus of carnivorous mammals known from the late Paleocene and early Eocene (Tiffanian-Gardnerbuttean[2] NALMA) of North America.[3] This genus in the family Viverravidae contains five species.

Didymictis is the only viverravid for which there are considerable postcranial remains. The genus was primarily terrestrial but at least partly cursorial, similar to a civet.[4]

Description[edit]

Didymictis has an elongated and relatively large skull with small and low braincase and a long and narrow basicranial region. The occipital and saggital crests are very high. The limbs are of moderate length with subdigitigrade and five-toed feet. The dentition (3.1.4.23.1.4.2) contrast those of miacids by the sharp differentiation between sectorial and tubercular dentition, the loss of the last molar and an elongated second molar, similar to the dentition in bears and raccoons.[5]

Comparing Didymictis to Vulpavus, a much smaller and more agile viverravid, Heinrich & Rose 1997 noted that Didymictis' limbs, especially the hindlimb, are similar to those in extant carnivornas adapted for speed, and the forelimbs to some extent are specialized to digging. The authors concluded that Didymictis was a relatively specialized terrestrial carnivore capable of hunting with speed or pursuing by digging.[6]

Species[edit]

D. proteus is known from the late Paleocene and earliest Eocene of Wyoming and the only species present in the Tiffanian and Clarkforkian stages (60–55 Ma). It is slightly larger than D. leptornylus and slightly smaller than D. protenus.[7] Simpson 1937 named a new subspecies, Didymictis protenus proteus, which Polly 1997 reranked as the species D. proteus.[3] Dorr 1952 described Didymictis dellensis which Gingerich & Winkler 1985 included in Protictis dellensis.[8] Polly 1997 finally included these species in D. proteus.[3]

D. leptomylus is known from the early Wasatchian (55 Ma) of western North America, but by far fewer specimens than D. proteus.[9]

D. protenus is known from the earliest through late Wasatchian (early Eocene) of western North America.[9] Cope assigned his specimen, "one entire and a portion of the other mandibular ramus, with teeth well preserved", to the creodont genus Limnocyon and named his new species L. protenus.[10] Cope later created a new genus and renamed his species Didymictis protenus.[11]

D. vancleveae is known from a fragmented jaw with several teeth (Colorado) described by Robinson 1966 and another tooth (Wyoming) tentatively assigned to this species.[12] Robinson described D. vancleveae as larger than D. altidens and probably the youngest Didymicits. He assumed that the genus grew larger as it evolved.[13]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Didymictis". Fossilworks. Retrieved September 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ The Gardnerbuttean is a transitional stage between the Wasatchian and Bridgerian Land Mammal Ages. (Gunnell 2001, p. 407)
  3. ^ a b c Polly 1997, p. 34
  4. ^ Heinrich & Houde 2006, Introduction, p. 422
  5. ^ Matthew 1937, Diagnosis, p. 101
  6. ^ Heinrich & Rose 1997, Summary, pp. 300–301
  7. ^ Polly 1997, pp. 34–35
  8. ^ Gingerich & Winkler 1985, p. 117
  9. ^ a b Polly 1997, pp. 41
  10. ^ Cope 1874, pp. 126–127
  11. ^ Cope 1875, p. 11
  12. ^ Gunnell et al. 1992, p. 276
  13. ^ Robinson 1966, pp. 48–49

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]