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The status of Schowalteria clemensi, the Late Cretaceous taeniodont (Mammalia).

September 19, 2016:

Schowalteria clemensi Fox and Naylor, from the latest Cretaceous lower Scollard Formation, Red Deer Valley, Alberta, is the only known Mesozoic member of the extinct mammalian order Taeniodonta. Schowalteria clemensi was originally classified in the derived family Stylinodontidae, but more recent studies employing computer-assisted phylogenetic and stratocladistic analyses of taeniodont interrelationships contend that S. clemensi is the basal taeniodont, whereas Onychodectes, long considered the basal taeniodont, is instead the sister group of stylinodontids alone. These studies, however, are deeply flawed, marred by selection of problematic outgroups, incorrect scoring of numerous character states and of the stratigraphic age of S. clemensi, omission of all stylinodontid-like characters of S. clemensi, and reliance on major, implausible reversals during early taeniodont history. The more recent of these analyses also examined the relationship of taeniodonts within Eutheria, but this data set includes 54 (61%) erroneous scores for S. clemensi, the only taeniodont in the analysis. Moreover, subsequently published errata introduced new errors into the analyses. Thus, the hypothesis that S. clemensi is the earliest discovered stylinodontid remains unrefuted by these studies: the earliest history of stylinodontids and that of more basal taeniodonts is still to be discovered, among species older than S. clemensi itself.

Richard C. Fox (2016)
The status of Schowalteria clemensi, the Late Cretaceous taeniodont (Mammalia).
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Article: e1211666
DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2016.1211666.


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