New specimens of the mesonychid Dissacus praenuntius from the early Eocene of Wyoming and evaluation of body size through the PETM in North America

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The Mesonychia is a group of archaic carnivorous mammals of uncertain phylogenetic affinities with a Holarctic distribution during the Paleogene. Intensive fossil collecting efforts in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, have resulted in recovery of the largest sample and most complete specimens yet known of the mesonychid Dissacus praenuntius from the second biozone of the Wasatchian North American Land Mammal Age (Wa-0). The Wa-0 biozone corresponds to the body of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a brief but intense global warming event that occurred ~56 myr ago that significantly impacted terrestrial mammal faunas, including dwarfing in many mammal lineages. To evaluate the potential response of this lineage to climate change, we compared the PETM sample of D. praenuntius with those recovered from just before the PETM in the last biozone of the Clarkforkian North American Land Mammal Age (Cf-3) and just after the PETM in the Wa-1 biozone. While the sample size is still too small to say with certainty, tooth size (as a proxy for body weight) of D. praenuntius appears to be smaller during the late PETM than during either the pre-PETM Cf-3, or post-PETM Wa-1 biozones, suggesting the possibility of a muted dwarfing response to the PETM. However, the pattern observed for D. praenuntius differs from that of many other PETM mammals, as the shift to smaller body size is less pronounced and may have only occurred in late Wa-0.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Solé, F; Morse, PE; Bloch, JI; Gingerich, PD; Smith, T

Published Date

  • July 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66-67 /

Start / End Page

  • 103 - 118

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0016-6995

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.geobios.2021.02.005

Citation Source

  • Scopus