December 1992
Vol. 21, Fasc. 3-4
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Print ISSN: 0031-0247
Online ISSN: 2274-0333
Frequency: biannual

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Palaeovertebrata Vol. 21, Fasc. 3-4:December 1992

Table of contents


Observations sur l'anatomie crânienne du genre Palaeotherium (Perissodactyla, Mammalia): mise en évidence d'un nouveau sous-genre, Franzenitherium
Jean-Albert Remy
Keywords: Palaeotherium; Paleogene; Perissodactyla; skull anatomy; Systematics

    The skull remains referred to the genus Palaeotherium are recorded and described. Biometrical tests are made to elucidate intrageneric allometric relationships and to allow comparisons with various other perissodactyls. Apart from the well known shortness of post canine diastems and deepness of the narial opening, the genus is characterized by a great lengthening of the splanchnocranium, owing to a spreading of the post-orbital facial region, by a reduced area of the eye-socket and by the prevalence of the temporal muscle with regard to the masseter; this original shape of the masticatory apparatus needs to be related to the morphology of the jugal teeth and particularly to their  asymmetrical semi-hypsodonty.
        These animals, whose running ability was evidently poor, appear to have been adapted to rather closed environments, feeding on relatively soft vegetable matter; olfactory sense was likely to play a leading part in interindividual and environmental relationships. Such evolutionary trends might explain the disappearance of most of them, as clirnatic conditions deteriorated at the end of the Eocene, before the "Grande Coupure" which affected mammalian faunas at that time.
          Although the present paper is not directly concemed with phylogenetics, it invalidates the supposed ancestor-descendant relationship between P. castrense and P. magnum, and it suggests a possible emergence of the P. medium lineage from a P. siderolithicum stock. Moreover, the structure of the post-orbital facial area allows the  erection of a new sub-genus, Franzenitherium, for the  species lautricense and duvali.


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