Brevia

An Aegialodontid Upper Molar and the Evolution of Mammal Dentition

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Science  25 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5790, pp. 1092
DOI: 10.1126/science.1128530

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Abstract

The most obvious key synapomorphy of the therian mammals is the tribosphenic pattern of their molars. Tribosphenic teeth are capable of both shearing and grinding, which substantially increase effectiveness of food processing and, in turn, permit evolution of a wide range of dietary specializations. Functional tribospheny developed repeatedly during mammalian evolution but was successful only in the Boreosphenida. The earliest stage in the development of boreosphenidan tribospheny has remained poorly understood, being documented only by lower molars of aegialodontids. Here, we report a known upper molar of an aegialodontid mammal, Kielantherium, from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia.

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