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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489

S. Afr. j. sci. vol.103 n.5-6 Pretoria May./Jun. 2007

 

RESEARCH LETTERS

 

Lower Triassic postcanine teeth with allotherian-like crowns

 

 

F. Abdala; H. Mocke; P.J. Hancox

Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa

 

 


ABSTRACT

The Allotheria are fossil mammals with upper and lower post-canines usually showing two longitudinal rows of cusps separated by a central valley. The group comprises the poorly known haramiyids, mostly represented by isolated teeth, and the notably diverse and long-lived multituberculates; its monophyly is uncertain. The oldest records of this particular group are the Late Triassic (Norian-Rhaetian) haramiyids. We present here postcanines with haramiyid-like crowns that were recovered from the Lower Triassic of South Africa. A distinguishing feature of the new teeth is that they are single-rooted. This is the oldest record of mammal-like teeth with crowns having parallel rows of cusps, representing a temporal extension of some 43 million years from similar crown patterns of haramiyids and tritylodontids. This finding reinforces evidence of the remarkable faunal turnover of therapsids in the Early/Middle Triassic, at which time an explosive origin followed by a rapid early diversification of herbivorous/omnivorous forms with occluding expanded postcanines took place.


 

 

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Received 13 April 2007.
Accepted 15 June 2007.

 

Author for correspondence. E-mail: nestor.abdala@wits.ac.za
§ Present Address: Geological Survey, Windhoek, Namibia.

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