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Lopez-Guerrero P.,Geologisch und Palaontologische Abteilung | Maridet O.,Collection Management Center | Zhang Z.,University of Fribourg | Daxner-Hock G.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
PLoS ONE | Year: 2017

We describe a new species of Rodentia (Mammalia), Argyromys cicigei sp. nov. from Toglorhoi (fossil bed TGW-A/2a) in Mongolia and Ulantatal (fossil beds UTL 1 and UTL 7) in China. Its tooth morphology differs from the type species Argyromys aralensis from Akespe in Kazakhstan by smaller size and simpler structures. Argyromys has been assigned in different families of Muroidea, such as Tachyoryctoididae and Spalacidae. However, the presence of common characters indicates a closer relationship of Argyromys with the genera of Cricetidae s.l. (subfamilies Eucricetodontinae; Cricetopinae; Cricetodontinae and Gobicricetodontinae among others) from Asia than with the earliest representatives of Spalacidae or the endemic Tachyoryctoididae. Argyromys cicigei sp. nov. possesses a simple anterocone and anteroconid in the upper and lower first molars, respectively, which is characteristic for Cricetidae s.l. It has a flat occlusal surface in worn specimens; weakly-developed posterolophs; an oblique protolophule and metaloph on the upper molars and it lacks a labial anterolophid on the m1. These traits are also typical of the Oligocene genera Aralocricetodon and Plesiodipus, included in the subfamilies Cricetodontinae and Gobicricetodontinae respectively. The cladistic analysis performed here supports this hypothesis. The clade formed by Argyromys species is grouped with other cricetid taxa (s.l). Spalacids, however, form a different clade, as do the tachyoryctoids. Previous authors state that the Aral Formation (Kazakhstan) should be dated to the Oligocene instead of the Miocene, based on the presence of several taxa. The finds of Argyromys in both regions supports the statement that they are closer in age than previously thought. The occurrence of Argyromys in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China evidences the biogeographic unity of the Central Asian bioprovince during the Oligocene. © 2017 López-Guerrero et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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