Geologica Belgica

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Tiphaine COILLOT, Richard SMITH, Paul GIGASE & Thierry SMITH

Tarsal diversity in the earliest Eocene mammal fauna of Dormaal, Belgium

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Mots-clés : PETM, Tienen Formation, Postcranial, astragalus, calcaneus.

Abstract

Mammal teeth bring important information regarding phylogeny and diet. However, postcranial elements, although poorly studied for small Paleogene mammals, can provide other significant data. The purpose of this study is to associate tarsal bones with dental specimens for a systematic identification. We thus chose the Belgian locality of Dormaal (Tienen Formation, Belgium) that has yielded the earliest Eocene mammals of Europe. This particularly rich fauna, dated between 55.5 and 55.8 Ma, occurred during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a key period in the mammal evolution. It is composed by archaic mammals (“condylarths”, arctocyonids, plesiadapiforms, "insectivorans"…) and also by earliest modern taxa (primates, rodents, carnivoraforms, artiodactyls …), representing about 14,000 dental specimens. 488 tarsal bones are studied according to three methods: morphology, relative abundance and relative size. 12 morphotypes of astragali and 18 of calcanei are discriminated and most of them are identified at the level of species (e.g. the marsupial Peratherium constans), genus or family (e.g. Ischyromyid rodents). Biases for each method are discussed and new perspectives in phylogeny and paleoecology are proposed for further studies implying tarsal bones.

To cite this article

Tiphaine COILLOT, Richard SMITH, Paul GIGASE & Thierry SMITH, «Tarsal diversity in the earliest Eocene mammal fauna of Dormaal, Belgium», Geologica Belgica [En ligne], volume 16 (2013), number 4 - Dispersal of continental vertebrates during the Paleogene, 274-283 URL : http://popups.ulg.ac.be/1374-8505/index.php?id=4293.

About: Tiphaine COILLOT

SFA – Institut International de Paléoprimatologie, Paléontologie Humaine : Evolution et Paléoenvironnements (IPHEP) – UMR CNRS 7262, Université de Poitiers, 6 rue Michel Brunet, 86022 Poitiers Cedex, France. E-mail: tiphaine.coillot@univ-poitiers.fr

About: Richard SMITH

Department of Paleontology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: richardsmithpal@hotmail.com

About: Paul GIGASE

Prins Albertlei 15 bus 11, 2600 Berchem, Belgium. E-mail: paul_gigase@hotmail.com

About: Thierry SMITH

Department of Paleontology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: thierry.smith@naturalsciences.be