Climbing adaptations in the early eocene mammal Chriacus and the origin of artiodactyla

Science  17 Apr 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4799, pp. 314-316
DOI: 10.1126/science.3426662


A virtually complete articulated skeleton of the arctocyonid Chriacus, recently found in northern Wyoming, is one of the most intact early Eocene mammal skeletons ever found. It exhibits numerous adaptations characteristic of mammals that climb, including strong bony crests and processes (reflecting powerful musculature), ability for considerable forearm supination, a highly mobile ankle joint, plantigrade feet, curved and transversely compressed claws, and a long, possibly semiprehensile tail. These features contrast sharply with those of the oldest artiodactyls and indicate that Chriacus or a similar arctocyonid was not ancestral to the Artiodactyla, as has been proposed.