Temporal range: 55.8–50.3 Ma
Wyonycteris is a genus of small mammals that existed in the early Eocene epoch. The type species is Wyonycteris chalix, discovered in Wyoming and proposed to be an early form of insectivorous bat. Later re-examination of the material has put this alliance in doubt, and the placement has instead been proposed as a genus belonging to the subfamily Placentidentinae, within the family Nyctitheriidae. Similar fossil material of the same time period found in Europe was later discovered and described as new species, Wyonycteris richardi.
Secord (2008) described the first known species of Wyonycteris from the Paleocene epoch, Wyonycteris galensis and W. microtis, although the status of both species as members of Wyonycteris has been questioned. The two largest species, W. primitivus and W. kingi, are known from the early Eocene of Mississippi and England, respectively.
Wyonycteris is only known from dental remains. It is characterized by W-shaped crests on the outer side of the upper molars, a trait that it shares with most insectivorous bats. However, Wyonycteris possesses a number of additional cusps on the upper molars that are not present in bats leading many researchers to conclude that it is more closely related to the extinct insectivorous family Nyctitheriidae. A recent phylogenetic analysis found most species of Wyonycteris to be within the family Nyctitheriidae, most closely related to the genus Pontifactor. Wyonycteris microtis was found to be very distantly related to the other species of Wyonycteris and outside the family Nyctitheriidae.
Rose et al. (2012) compared Wyonycteris to the genus Plagioctenoides and concluded that the two may in fact belong to the same genus. If this is the case, the correct genus name would be Plagioctenoides since it was formally named first.
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- "Earliest Eocene mammalian fauna from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum at Sand Creek Divide, southern Bighorn Basin, Wyoming". deepblue.lib.umich.edu. Retrieved 2019-08-10.