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Abstract

Gondwanatherians are an enigmatic group of extinct non-therian mammals apparently restricted to some of the western Gondwanan continents (Late Cretaceousearly Palaeocene of South America, and Late Cretaceous of Madagascar and India). They developed rodent-like incisors and the earliest known hypsodont cheek-teeth among mammals. Recently, a small rodent-like dentary fragment was recovered from middle Eocene beds on the Antarctic Peninsula, preserving part of the incisor; both the incisor enamel structure and the mandibular morphology suggest close affinities with Sudamerica ameghinoi from the early Palaeocene of Patagonia, up to now the youngest known Gondwanatheria. Thus, the new specimen becomes the youngest occurrence of a gondwanathere, adding significant direct and indirect evidence on: (1) the already documented cosmopolitanism of gondwanatheres among Gondwanan mammals; and (2) the crucial biogeographical role of Antarctica during the Cretaceous–Tertiary mammalian transition.

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