STL Science Center

STL Science Center

02 July 2014

Rodent-esque Mammals

We know a lot about Multituberculata Cope 1884 thanks to the research of many dedicated scientists, including Dr. Kielan-Jaworowska. The second half of her career has been dedicated to mammals, in part to the Multituberculata (derived from the cusps of the cheek teeth). Denizens of mostly northern landmasses (Laurasia), these small rodent-like (rodent-esque?) mammals thrived from around the Triassic-Jurassic boundary to the end of the Oligocene when they replaced or outcompeted by rodents. They ranged from mouse to beaver size, like rodents, and ran in the same niche circles: they included burrowing ground animals, swimmers, and squirrel-like tree dwellers. They are unique in that they appear closely related to monotremes and therians, but are more closely related to therian mammals. The image from the other day of Catopsbaatar depicts one of these little mammals that Jaworowska worked on. The current taxonomy, in fact, is based on the work of Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska and Jorn Hurum. Her work on Multituberculata is so extensive, in fact that 4 families, 2 superfamilies, and 4 genera were named by Kielan-Jaworowska (2 families, both superfamilies, and a single genus have co-authors).
Skull of Kamptobaatar kuczynskii in lateral view, without lower jaw. From Kielan-Jaworowska (1971)

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