Adaptations for Climbing in North American Multituberculates (Mammalia)

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Science  13 May 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4598, pp. 712-715
DOI: 10.1126/science.220.4598.712


A recently discovered skeleton of Ptilodus exhibits several specializations for climbing. A survey of postcranial bones of Cretaceous and early Cenozoic multituberculates from North America reveals similar locomotor specializations. Multituberculates possessed distinctive tarsal adaptations for a range of pedal mobility characteristic of arboreal mammals that descend trees headfirst. The divergent hallux could move independently of the other digits. The long robust tail of Ptilodus possessed musculoskeletal features that, among living mammals, are associated with prehensility.

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