STL Science Center

STL Science Center

24 September 2013

Tap Dancing Today

Tapocyon robusts (T. occidentalis)
I have to say, it is discouraging that articles are a bit more rare than I would like for the greater majority of the family Miacidae. Miacis is a member of the family that has been studied a bit more than others, and as such, has more articles dedicated to it like this one on a partial skeleton from Wyoming. Two of the genera of today, Prodaphaenus and Quercygale, are sparse on articles and species; P. scotti, Q. angustidens, Q. hastinsgae, and Q. helvetica making up the entirety of the two genera. Prodaphaenus is almost nothing more than a note in the history books also, having very little information overall disseminated about it. Quercygale, however, is a bit more of a cosmopolitan and well known animal. Conjectured to be a basal carnivore predating the split between canines and felines, as all Miacids are, Quercygale is thought to be close to that branching (thus making it the most advanced of all the Miacidae) and an immigrant from the Asian continent into Europe. The three species have all come from different countries with Q. angustidens Filhol 1872 coming from Quercy France, Q. hastinsgae Davies 1884 coming from Headon Bedes, England, and Q. helvetica Rütimeyer 1862 originating in Switzerland. Tapocyon is the newest-to-us genus in the triplet today. Discovered in 1930s California, specifically Ventura County and the city of Oceanside, California, Tapocyon remains consist of jaw bones in the original discovery and partial skeletons from subsequent discoveries. In 2003 Wesley and Flynn set out to redescribe what were then three species (Tapocyon dawsonae, Tapocyon robustus, and Tapocyon occidentalis). That paper synonymized the type species, T. occidentalis with T. robustus.

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