The skull of Morganucodon



Morganucodon is a triconodont (atherian) mammal from the Lower Jurassic. Two species are described: M. oehleri from China and M. watsoni from Wales. The skull in M. walsoni is 26 mm long; M. oehleri is slightly larger. The dentition is differentiated functionally into incisors, canines, premolars and molars. The pineal foramen is closed. The prefrontals, postfrontals and postorbitals are lost. Septomaxilla, quadratojugal, tabular and pterygoid flanges are retained. The bony external nares are unpaired. The nasal cavity had the mammalian complement of turbinals. The posterior palate has ridges and troughs similar to those in tritylodonts, triconodonts and multituberculates. The alisphenoid ascending process is narrow and is not in contact with the anterior lamina of the petrosal, lying lateral to it. There is a cavum epiptericum, as in late therapsids. The anterior lamina forms the lateral braincase wall, perforated by the foramina pseudovale and pseudorotundum. There is a squamosal-dentary articulation, but the reptilian jaw joint is retained. The ear resembles that in later therapsids, with the tympanum in the lower jaw. The small quadrate was moveable, buttressed medially be a large stapes. Sound conduction from the tympanum was via articular, quadrate and stapes. The systematic position of Morganucodon is discussed.