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Multituberculata

MULTITUBERCULATA, a group of extinct mammals, mostly of small size, whose remains are met with in strata ranging from the Trias to the Eocene, both in Europe and in North America. They are mostly known by their lower jaws, and take their name from the fact that the grinding teeth (fig. 2, m. i and 2; and fig. 3 a. b. c.) bear two or three longitudinal rows of tubercles, or are provided with tubercles round the edges. From this feature these otherwise unknown animals are believed to be related to the existing egg-laying mammals (duck-billed platypus and spiny ant-eater), constituting the order Monotremata, and are therefore provisionally placed near that group. The largest representative of the Multituberculata is Polymastodon from the Lower Eocene of New Mexico; the same beds also yield the smaller Ptilodus; while from corresponding strata at Rheims, in France, has been obtained the nearly allied Neoplagiaulax. The latter takes its name from its resemblance to Plagiaulax (figs, i and 2) from the Purbeck FIG. I. Lower Jaw of Plagiaulax becclesi, from the Purbeck Strata of Swanage (|).

strata of Swanage, Dorsetshire, which was one of the firstknown members of the group. These have cutting teeth in front and multituberculate molars behind. Allodon and Ctenacodon represent the group in the Cretaceous of North America; and the English Purbeck genus Bolodon, in which all the cheekteeth are multituberculate, also belongs here. Stereognathus (fig. 3) is another English Upper Oolitic type. Single teeth from the Rhaetic of England and Wurttemberg described as Microlestes apparently indicate the earliest member of the group. A skull from the Upper Triassic Karoo beds of South Africa described as Trilylodon longaevus, which has multituberculate molar teeth, was also at first placed in this group, but has been subsequently regarded as a reptile, although Dr R. Broom considers that the a t Fig. 2. Lower Jaw of Plagiaulax FIG. 3. Fragment of Jaw of minor, from Swanage \. p. 1-4 Stereognathus oolithicus in premolars ; m, i and 2 molars. matrix J. a b c, molars.

original determination is correct. Possibly a fore-limb from the same formation described as Theriodesmus phylarchus indicates a similar or allied animal. Not improbably Trilylodon indicates a direct link between the multituberculate mammals and the anomodont reptiles of the Permian and Trias. (R. L.*)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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