Abstract

A new tribotherian mammal, Tirotherium aptum gen. et sp. nov., is described from the late Santonian to early Campanian upper Milk River Formation of Verdigris Coulee, southern Alberta, Canada. The new mammal is known only from isolated teeth, five upper and three lower molars. The upper molars represent two or possibly three pre-ultimate loci and are marked by reduction and loss of the stylar shelf anteriorly, loss of the stylocone, a paracone that is larger than the metacone, weakly developed conules, a low, small protocone, and specialized postvallum single-rank shear. The lower molars probably represent two pre-ultimate loci and are characterized by an anteriorly positioned paraconid, trenchant paracristid, small, posterolingual metaconid, a distal metacristid, broadly open trigonid angle, and a short, basined talonid in which the hypoconulid is closer to the entoconid than to the hypoconid. The molars of Tirotherium most closely resemble those of Picopsis Fox, 1980, a tribotherian that also occurs in the upper Milk River Formation, but the molars of Tirotherium are significantly larger than those of Picopsis. Nonetheless, Tirotherium aptum is best classified in the Picopsidae, a boreosphenidan family of tiny mammalian faunivores of uncertain relationships to other tribotherians, and displaying a unique mosaic of primitive and derived characters.

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