Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An early mammal named Liaoconodon hui

 Liaoconodon hui is a Cretaceous eutriconodont mammal of the order Eutriconodonta, whose representatives are only known as fossils. The name indicates its geographic origin, anatomic signature and an honored researcher [1]:
  • Liao: short for the Liaoning Province in northeastern China, where the fossilized skeleton of the described species was found in the Jiufotang Formation,
  • conodon: a common, Latin-derived suffix for generic names in animal taxonomy, meaning cuspate tooth (tooth with a pointed or rounded projection on the chewing surface; the Latin word cuspis means point),
  • hui: after Yaoming Hu, a palaeontology student dedicated to the study of Mesozoic mammals.
The species is described as a medial-sized eutriconodont with a total body length (including the tail) of about 35 cm and with dental formula I3.CI.P2.M3/i2.c1.p2.m4 [1]; some knowledge you may want to impress your dentist with at your next visit.

This early mammal species is of interest in evolutionary biology: particularly in understanding the evolution of placental mammals and marsupials (Theria) and egg-laying mammals (monotremes) by studying the morphology and homologies of the middle ear [2].

Keywords: palaeontology, etymology, taxonomy, vertebrates, mammalia, cranium of mammals, ear ossicles

References and further reading
[1] J. Meng, Y. Wang and C. Li: Transitional mammalian middle ear from a new Cretaceous Jehol eutriconodont. Nature April 14, 2011, 472 (7342), pp. 181-185. DOI: 10.1038/nature09921.
[2] Posted by Taylor Reints: A newly Described Eutriconodont from the Early Cretaceous of Northeastern China possessing a Transitional Middle Ear [scienceasweknowit.blogspot.com/2011/04/newly-described-eutriconodont-from.html].

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