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Naturwissenschaften. 2010 Apr;97(4):417-22. doi: 10.1007/s00114-010-0651-5. Epub 2010 Feb 20.

Euarchontan affinity of Paleocene Afro-European adapisoriculid mammals and their origin in the late Cretaceous Deccan Traps of India.

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Department of Palaeontology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, rue Vautier 29, 1000, Brussels, Belgium.


The controversial family Adapisoriculidae, a group of shrew-sized Paleocene mammals, had proposed relationships with insectivores, marsupials and more recently to plesiadapiforms. Adapisoriculid remains are numerous in the early Paleocene locality of Hainin, Belgium, and allow us a test of these different phylogenetic hypotheses. Here, we identify the first tarsal bones of adapisoriculid mammals. The highly specialised bones indicate an arboreal mode of life with euarchontan affinity. Moreover, the tarsal bones are morphologically very close to those of the late Cretaceous Deccanolestes from the Deccan intertrappean beds of India, and also share several characters with the Paleocene plesiadapiforms and the extant cynocephalid dermopterans. The adapisoriculid affinities of Deccanolestes are also confirmed by tooth morphology, indicating that Deccanolestes is a primitive member of this family. These phylogenetic affinities suggest a paleobiogeographic scenario for the family with dispersal either via East Africa or across the Tethys area.

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