Abstract

The Archaeopithecidae is a very poorly known group of native ungulates from the Eocene of Patagonia (Argentina), whose alpha taxonomy has remained obscure since Ameghino’s times. It is traditionally considered as a family representative of the Casamayoran (middle Eocene) South American Land Mammal Age, and is thought to be morphologically close to the notopithecids. After studying >200 specimens from several institutions, including all the type specimens, a taxonomic overestimation is established. Out of the six species considered originally as archaeopithecids, Archaeopithecus rogeri Ameghino, 1897 is here recognized as the only valid name and species; subsequent synonymies are proposed and previous taxonomic hypotheses discarded. This exhaustive revision has permitted improving the knowledge of A. rogeri and, for the first time, it has revealed many craniodental characters, which allow amending its diagnosis and differentiating this taxon from other Eocene notoungulates. Archaeopithecus rogeri is a small-sized taxon characterized by its complete and rooted dentition, which is relatively higher than that of other contemporaneous short-crowned notoungulates and shows ontogenetic variation in size and morphology. The body mass range of A. rogeri (1.4–2.5 kg) is comparable to those of notopithecids and some small hegetotheriids. The phylogenetic analysis shows A. rogeri is not directly related to any family within Notoungulata, appearing into a polytomy, as a basal taxon of typotherians. The biochronological range of A. rogeri is adjusted to Vacan (middle Eocene) through Barrancan subages (late middle Eocene); older (Riochican, late early Eocene) and younger (Mustersan, late Eocene) records remain to be confirmed.

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