Just out | Origin of the Lateral Wall of the Mammalian Skull: Fossils, Monotremes and Therians Revisited @ Journal of Mammalian Evolution

Just out @ Journal of Mammalian Evolution

Origin of the Lateral Wall of the Mammalian Skull: Fossils, Monotremes and Therians Revisited


A.W. Crompton, C. Musinsky, G.W. Rougier, B.-A.S. Bhullar, J. A. Miyamae


To interpret the fundamental differences in the structure and origin of the braincase sidewalls of monotremes, multituberculates, and therians, we examined MicroCT scans of a mammaliaform, Morganucodon; two non-mammalian cynodonts, Massetognathus and Probainognathus; a stem therian, Vincelestes; a juvenile and adult monotreme, Ornithorhynchus; and two marsupials, Monodelphis and Didelphis. The skull of Morganucodon resembles the pattern predicted for an early mammal: the descending flanges of the frontal and parietal cover the lateral surface of the orbitosphenoid and the palatine forms most of the medial wall of the orbit. In monotremes, the lateral region of the chondrocranium ossifies to form a long presphenoid/orbitosphenoid complex. During the transition from early mammals to extant mammals the height of the alisphenoid decreased drastically, the anterior lamina extended anteriorly to form part of the sidewall while the lateral surface of the orbitosphenoid was exposed by the dorsal withdrawal of the frontal and parietal. By contrast, in multituberculates and therians the lateral edges of the frontals extended further ventrally and the orbitosphenoid was reduced to a smaller orbital exposure below the frontals. In multituberculates the alisphenoid decreased in height, replaced by an anterior extension of the anterior lamina. The palatine withdrew from the orbital wall, replaced by a dorsally directed expansion of the maxilla. Extant therians have lost the anterior lamina. The inferior edges of the frontal followed the further ventral migration of the orbitosphenoid. The alisphenoid and parietal form most of the braincase sidewall.

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Keywords: Braincase sidewall, Orbitosphenoid, Monotremes, Ictidosaurs, Morganucodon, Vincelestes 



Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)