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Temporal range: Late Paleocene–Late Eocene
Hapalodectes serus.JPG
Hapalodectes serus (bottom)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Mesonychia
Family: Hapalodectidae
(Szalay & Gould, 1966)


Hapalodectidae (literally "soft biters": hapalos = "soft, tender", dêktês = "biter") is an extinct family of relatively small-bodied (1–8 kg)[1] mesonychian placental mammals from the Paleocene and Eocene of North America and Asia.[2] Hapalodectids differ from the larger and better-known mesonychids in having teeth specialized for cutting (presumably meat), while the teeth of other mesonychids, such as Mesonyx or Sinonyx, are more specialized for crushing bones.[1] Hapalodectids were once considered a subfamily of the Mesonychidae,[3] but the discovery of a skull of Hapalodectes hetangensis showed additional differences justifying placement in a distinct family.[4] In particular, H. hetangensis has a postorbital bar closing the back of the orbit,[4] a feature lacking in mesonychids. The skeleton of hapalodectids is poorly known and of the postcranial elements, only the humerus has been described. The morphology of this bone indicates less specialization for terrestrial locomotion than in mesonychids.[5]


Family Hapalodectidae

  • Genus Hapalodectes
    • H. anthracinus Zhou et Gingerich, 1991
    • H. dux Lopatin, 1999
    • H. hetangensis Ting et Li, 1987
    • H. huanghaiensis Tong et Wang, 2006
    • H. leptognathus Osborn et Wortman, 1892
    • H. lopatini Solé et al., 2017
    • H. paleocenus Beard et all., 2010
    • H. serus Matthew et Granger, 1925
  • Genus Hapalorestes
    • H. lovei
  • Genus Honanodon
    • H. chow
    • H. hebetis
    • H. lushiensis
    • H. macrodontus
  • Genus Lohoodon
    • L. lushiensis
  • Genus Metahapalodectes
    • M. makhchinus


  1. ^ a b Gunnell, G.R.; P.D. Gingerich (1989). "New hapalodectid Hapalorestes lovei (Mammalia, Mesonychia) from the early middle Eocene of northwestern Wyoming". Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, The University of Michigan. 29 (15): 413–418. hdl:2027.42/48636.
  2. ^ McKenna, M. C; S. K. Bell (1997). Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11012-X.
  3. ^ Szalay, F.S.; S.J. Gould (1966). "Asiatic Mesonychidae (Mammalia, Condylarthra)". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 132 (2): 127–174. hdl:2246/1112.
  4. ^ a b Ting, S.; C. Li (1987). "The skull of Hapalodectes (?Acreodi, Mammalia), with notes on some Chinese Paleocene mesonychids". Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 25: 161–186.
  5. ^ O'Leary, M.A. (1998). "Morphology of the humerus of Hapalodectes (Mammalia, Mesonychia)". American Museum Novitates. 3242: 1–6. hdl:2246/3175.