Earliest record of Platychoerops (Primates, Plesiadapidae), a new species from Mouras Quarry, Mont de Berru, France

Doug M Boyer, Loïc Costeur, Yaron Lipman
American Journal of Physical Anthropology 2012, 149 (3): 329-46
Plesiadapids are extinct relatives of extant euarchontans (primates, dermopterans, and scandentians), which lived in North America and Europe during the Paleocene and Early Eocene. The only genus of plesiadapid whose species are absent from Paleocene strata is Platychoerops. Further, Platychoerops is the only group found in sediments post-dating the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (PEB) by a substantial period of time based on large samples. It is also substantially different from other plesiadapids in dental features thought to reflect ecology. Its evolution has been linked to the rapid global climate change and faunal turnover marking the PEB. Platychoerops and Plesiadapis tricuspidens have been reconstructed as members of a single lineage by some authors. We describe a specimen (right p3-m3) that we attribute to a new species, Platychoeropsantiquus, from the unequivocally Paleocene (MP6) Mouras Quarry of Mont de Berru, France. It has strong morphological affinities to Platychoerops daubrei yet co-occurs with many specimens of Plesiadapis tricuspidens, as well as the plesiadapid Chiromyoides campanicus. The existence of a species of Platychoerops prior to the PEB decouples the evolution of Platychoerops from the climate change and faunal turnover event associated with the PEB. Furthermore, the co-occurrence of Platychoerops with P. tricuspidens refutes the idea of a single lineage for these taxa. Instead, Platychoerops may be more closely related to North American Plesiadapis cookei (a previous alternate hypothesis). We suggest character displacement in a Paleocene immigrant population of P. cookei resulting from competition with sympatric P. tricuspidens, as a likely scenario for the evolution of Platychoerops.

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