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Keywords:

  • Peramura;
  • Mammalia;
  • tribosphenic;
  • Purbeck Group;
  • Early Cretaceous

Abstract:  The known sample of the important pretribosphenic mammal Peramus tenuirostris, housed in the Natural History Museum (London, UK), was imaged using micro-computed tomography (CT). Substantial morphological diversity was discovered, prompting establishment (and resurrection) of additional taxa from within the existing hypodigm of Peramus tenuirostris: Peramus dubius comb. nov., Kouriogenys minor gen. nov. and Peramuroides tenuiscus gen. et sp. nov. The Peramura are revised; this group is restricted to taxa with clear evidence of a fully functional upper molar embrasure for the dominant lower molar talonid cusp (hypoconid), either through development of wear facet 4 or through differentiation of a distinct hypoconulid. The Peramura are the most likely sister taxon to the Tribosphenida (including living marsupials and placentals) and represent a distinct molar morphotype, transitional between primitive lineages characterized by dominant orthal shear (e.g. dryolestoids) and those with modern, multi-functional tribospheny. A very large masseteric foramen is identified in peramurans, but this feature appears to be autapomorphic and of uncertain function.