JOURNAL ARTICLE

A New Large Hyainailourine from the Bartonian of Europe and Its Bearings on the Evolution and Ecology of Massive Hyaenodonts (Mammalia)

Floréal Solé, Eli Amson, Matthew Borths, Dominique Vidalenc, Michael Morlo, Katharina Bastl
PloS One 2015, 10 (9): e0135698
26398622
We describe a new large-sized species of hypercarnivorous hyainailourine-Kerberos langebadreae gen. & sp. nov.-from the Bartonian (MP16) locality of Montespieu (Tarn, France). These specimens consist of a skull, two hemimandibles and several hind limb elements (fibula, astragalus, calcaneum, metatarsals, and phalanges). Size estimates suggest K. langebadreae may have weighed up to 140 kg, revealing this species as the largest carnivorous mammal in Europe at that time. Besides its very large size, K. langebadreae possesses an interesting combination of primitive and derived features. The distinctive skull morphology of K. langebadreae reflects a powerful bite force. The postcranial elements, which are rarely associated with hyainailourine specimens, indicate an animal capable of a plantigrade stance and adapted for terrestrial locomotion. We performed the first phylogenetic analysis of hyainailourines to determine the systematic position of K. langebadreae and to understand the evolution of the group that includes other massive carnivores. The analysis demonstrates that Hemipsalodon, a North American taxon, is a hyainailourine and is closely related to European Paroxyaena. Based on this analysis we hypothesize the biogeographic history of the Hyainailourinae. The group appeared in Africa with a first migration to Europe during the Bartonian that likely included the ancestors of Kerberos, Paroxyaena and Hemipsalodon, which further dispersed into North America at this time. We propose that the hyainailourines dispersed into Europe also during the Priabonian. These migrants have no ecological equivalent in Europe during these intervals and likely did not conflict with the endemic hyaenodont proviverrines. The discovery of K. langebadreae shows that large body size appears early in the evolution of hyainailourines. Surprisingly, the late Miocene Hyainailouros shares a more recent common ancestor with small-bodied hyainailourines (below 15 kg). Finally, our study supports a close relationship between the Hyainailourinae and Apterodontinae and we propose the new clade: Hyainailouridae.

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