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Birch mouse ancestor discovered in Inner Mongolia is new species of rare 'living fossil'
Date:5/24/2011

igrated from North America to Asia. That hypothesis has been based on a 14.8 million-year-old specimen from South Dakota, which was identified in 1977 as the separate rodent genus Macrognathomys. Kimura's analysis, however, concludes that Macrognathomys is actually Sicista. For that reason, she concluded, Sicista first inhabited the forests and grasslands of prehistoric Asia and then dispersed to North America via the Bering Land Bridge, Kimura said.

In a comparison of the molars and premolars from Macrognathomys and Sicista primus, Kimura reported finding 12 shared dental characteristics. In addition, phylogenetic analysis to identify evolutionary relationships indicated that both belong to the same genus, Sicista, she said.

Reconnaissance of earlier Central Asiatic Expedition localities yields small mammals

The teeth of Sicista primus were discovered in fine sediments gathered from Gashunyinadege, a fossil locality in the central region of Inner Mongolia.

Gashunyinadege is one of several fossil localities near Tunggur, a fossil site discovered in the 1920s by the Central Asiatic Expedition, which was led by Roy Chapman Andrews from the American Museum of Natural History.

Kimura is a member of an international scientific team sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The team's expeditions have been led by paleontologists Qiu Zhuding, IVPP; Wang Xiaoming, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; and Li Qiang, IVPP. Their expeditions retrace important classic localities, as well as prospect new fossil localities.

Kimura and other members of the team discovered the birch mouse fossils by first prospecting Gashunyinadege for small mammal fossils visible to the naked eye. Those fossils indicated the possibility of even smaller mammal fo
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

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