Abstract

New aplodontid material recovered from Hepburn's Mesa, Montana, stimulated reexamination of Ansomys, a genus of aplodontid previously known only from Asia. A cladistic analysis of the known species of Ansomys, as well as new material from Hepburn's Mesa and a few other morphologically similar species, prompted reconstruction of the biogeographic history of the genus. One new species, A. hepburnensis, from the Barstovian of Montana, is described, and two other species, A. nexodens and A. descendens, are placed in Ansomys rather than in Pseudallomys and Plesispermophilus, respectively. Addition of these three species to Ansomys extends its distribution throughout the Holarctic in the mid-Miocene. Stratigraphic ranges combined with phylogenetic relationships between species suggest this wide distribution as early as the late Oligocene, which is unique among aplodontid genera. The distribution, the rarity, the unusually small size, and the complex cusp morphology of Ansomys suggest a very specialized ecology for members of this clade.

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