December 1996
Vol. 25, Fasc. 2-4
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Print ISSN: 0031-0247
Online ISSN: 2274-0333
Frequency: biannual

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PalaeovertebrataVol. 25, Fasc. 2-4:215-224. 1996
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Paleobiology of Messel Erinaceomorphs
Gerhard Storch
Keywords: Erinaceomorpha; Germany; Grube Messel; Lipotyphla; Middle Eocene; Paleobiology

Cite this article: Storch G., 1996. Paleobiology of Messel Erinaceomorphs. Palaeovertebrata 25 (2-4): 215-224.


Three erinaceomorph species are known from the early Middle Eocene of Grube Messel near Darmstadt, Germany, which are referred to the family Amphilemuridae. Pholidocercus hassiacus, Macrocranion tupaiodon, and Macrocranion tenerum showed extraordinary adaptations to their different life strategies, and several of their specializations are unknown among living insectivores. Pholídocercus was a well-defended robust animal with an opportunistic feeding strategy. Macrocraníon zupaiodon was a slender forest floor-dweller with saltatorial specializations to escape from predators; fishes were the preferred component of its omnivorous diet. Macrocranion tenerum exhibited a combination of both survival strategies, extremely elongated hind limbs for rapid and even ricochetal flight and a spiny exterior as an effective protective device; it was probably specialized for feeding on ants. Thus, closely related, omnivorous-insectivorous forest floor-dwellers could exploit the Messel ecosystem. 

Published in Vol. 25, Fasc. 2-4 (1996)