Fossil Evidence for a Late Cretaceous Origin of “Hoofed” Mammals

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  24 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5265, pp. 1150-1153
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5265.1150


Seventeen of eighteen orders of living placental mammals are not known before 65 million years ago. The monophyly of each order is well established, but interrelations have been less certain. A superordinal grouping of up to seven extant orders plus a variety of extinct orders, all included within Ungulata (“hoofed” mammals), can be linked to Late Cretaceous mammals from the 85-million-year-old Bissekty Formation, Uzbekistan (and, less certainly, North America and Europe), thus pushing the origin of this major clade back by 20 million years. Ungulatomorphs are not closely related to primates, rodents, or rabbits.