Abstract

Although the known record of Mesozoic eutherian mammals has been significantly enriched in recent years, early eutherian evolution is still not well understood. Among the more controversial of Mesozoic eutherians is Paranyctoides Fox, which was described in 1979 from the Judithian Dinosaur Park Formation, Alberta, Canada. It is a rare taxon and therefore has been identified in only a few other North American Late Cretaceous local faunas since. Within the past decade, dental and gnathic remains discovered in Central Asia have also been referred to Paranyctoides, thereby expanding the geographic range of the genus substantially and making it the only Late Cretaceous eutherian ostensibly occurring in both continents. As a result of our detailed study of Paranyctoides, however, we find that the Central Asian species lack the diagnostic characters of Paranyctoides and must be referred to other taxa. We conclude that this genus was limited to North America, ranging from Aquilan to Lancian time, and accordingly we recognize as valid only the following species: Paranyctoides sternbergi (Judithian, Alberta), P. maleficus (Aquilan, Alberta), Paranyctoides Wahweap sp. A and sp. B (Judithian, Utah), Paranyctoides Kaiparowits sp. A and sp. B (Judithian, Utah). Another purported species of Paranyctoides, P. megakeros, from the Lancian of Wyoming, is a junior synonym of Alostera saskatchewanensis.

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