Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Volume 31, Issue 4, 2011
An unusual specimen of a perissodactyl from the Bridgerian (late early to early middle Eocene) of Wyoming provides the basis for a new genus and species, Mesolambdolophus setoni. The specimen (MCZ 19585) displays an unusual combination of features: first lower premolar absent; p2 and p3 not molariform; p4 submolariform; anterior end of metalophid lingually placed, contacting metaconid; metaconid not twinned; and large hypoconulid on m3. The orientation of the metalophid excludes this specimen from Ceratomorpha, and the size and characters of this specimen exclude it from any known genus of Bridgerian perissodactyl, as well as from any other Eocene perissodactyl taxon. Including this taxon in a phylogenetic analysis of basal perissodactyls places Mesolambdolophus as sister taxon to Tapiromorpha, but we consider any assessment of the position of Mesolambdolophus tentative at best, given the limitations of analyses of basal perissodactyls currently available. The presence of a small Bridgerian ‘hippomorph’ form that is larger than Orohippus reduces the reliability of assigning isolated postcrania to Bridgerian perissodactyl taxa on the basis of size.