The deciduous dentition and dental replacement in the Eocene bat Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon from Messel: The primitive condition and beginning of specialization of milk teeth among Chiroptera

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Abstract

The deciduous dentition and tooth replacement pattern of Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon from the early Middle Eocene of Messel, near Frankfurt, Germany, are described. Ontogenetic states include fetuses to subadults. The posterior portion of the deciduous dentition (dP3-4) still shows the primitive eutherian condition of molarization, while the anterior part (dI-dC) was already engaged in the evolution of the highly derived condition found in living bats for clinging to the mother's fur. A styliform and sharp anterior dentition is considered a prerequisite in earliest chiropteran evolution. The greatly modified milk teeth of all living bats developed in different clades by parallel evolution under high selective pressure. The tiny and, at initial stages, poorly calcified teeth are substantiated by a newly developed microradiographic technique which is described in detail.

Ancillary