New Fossil Evidence on the Sister-Group of Mammals and Early Mesozoic Faunal Distributions

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Science  01 Mar 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4997, pp. 1063-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4997.1063


Newly discovered remains of highly advanced mammal-like reptiles (Cynodontia: Tritheledontidae) from the Early Jurassic of Nova Scotia, Canada, have revealed that aspects of the characteristic mammalian occlusal pattern are primitive. Mammals and tritheledontids share an homologous pattern of occlusion that is not seen in other cynodonts. The new tritheledontids represent the first definite record of this family from North America. The extreme similarity of North American and African tritheledontids supports the hypothesis that the global distribution of terrestrial tetrapods was homogeneous in the Early Jurassic. This Early Jurassic cosmopolitanism represents the continuation of a trend toward increased global homogeneity among terrestrial tetrapod communities that began in the late Paleozoic.

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