Evolutionary transition of dental formula in Late Cretaceous eutherian mammals

Alexander O Averianov, J David Archibald
Die Naturwissenschaften 2015, 102 (9-10): 56
Kulbeckia kulbecke, stem placental mammal from the Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan, shows a transitional stage of evolution in the dental formula from five to four premolars. A non-replaced dP3/dp3 may occur as individual variation. In other specimens, the lower premolars are crowded with no space for development of dp3. As is evident from the CT scanning of one juvenile specimen, the development of dp3 started in a late ontogenetic stage and was confined to the pulp cavity of the developing p2. This dp3 would have been resorbed in a later ontogenetic stage, as the roots of p2 formed. The initial stage of reduction of the third premolar can be traced to stem therians (Juramaia and Eomaia), which have both dP3 and P3 present in the adult dentition. Further delay in the development of dP3/dp3 led to the loss of the permanent P3/p3 (a possible synapomorphy for Eutheria). The dP3/dp3 was present during most of the adult stages in the Late Cretaceous stem placentals Zhelestidae and Gypsonictops. This tooth is totally absent in basal taxa of Placentalia, which normally have at most four premolars.

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