Faculté des sciences

Iberomeryx minor (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from the Early Oligocene of Soulce (Canton Jura, NW Switzerland): systematics and palaeodiet

Mennecart, Bastien ; Becker, Damien ; Berger, Jean-Pierre

In: Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 2011, vol. 104, no. Suppl. 1, p. 115-132

The primitive ruminant genus Iberomeryx is poorly documented, as it is essentially only known from rare occurrences of dental remains. Therefore, the phylogeny and palaeobiology of Iberomeryx remain rather enigmatic. Only two species have been described: the type species I. parvus from the Benara locality in Georgia, and the Western European species I. minor reported from France, Spain, and... Plus

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    Summary
    The primitive ruminant genus Iberomeryx is poorly documented, as it is essentially only known from rare occurrences of dental remains. Therefore, the phylogeny and palaeobiology of Iberomeryx remain rather enigmatic. Only two species have been described: the type species I. parvus from the Benara locality in Georgia, and the Western European species I. minor reported from France, Spain, and Switzerland. Iberomeryx savagei from India has recently been placed in the new genus Nalameryx. All these localities are dated to the Rupelian and correspond mainly to MP23 (European mammal reference level). Based on the short height of the tooth-crown and the bunoselenodont pattern of the molars, Iberomeryx has often been considered as a folivore/frugivore. The I. minor remains from Soulce (NW Switzerland) are preserved in Rupelian lacustrine lithographic limestones. One specimen from this locality represents the most complete mandible of the taxon with a partially persevered ramus. Moreover, the unpreserved portion of the mandible left an imprint in the sediment, permitting the reconstruction of the mandible outline. Based on a new description of these specimens, anatomical comparisons and Relative Warp Analysis (24 landmarks) of 94 mandibles (11 fossil and 83 extant) from 31 ruminant genera (10 fossil and 21 extant) and 40 species (11 fossil and 29 extant), this study attempts a preliminary discussion of the phylogeny and the diet of the species I. minor. The results permit to differentiate Pecora and Tragulina on the first principal component axis (first Relative warp) on behalf of the length of the diastema c/cheek teeth, the length of the premolars and the angular process. The mandible shape of I. minor is similar to those of the primitive Tragulina, but it differs somewhat from those of the extant Tragulidae, the only extant family in the Tragulina. This difference is essentially due to a stockier mandible and a deeper incisura vasorum. However, in consideration of the general pattern of its cheek teeth, I. minor as well as possibly Nalameryx should be considered to represent the only known primitive Tragulidae from the Oligocene. Moreover, I. minor should have been a selective browser (fruit and dicot foliage) but, similarly to small Hypertragulidae and Tragulidae, may also have exceptionally consumed animal matter.