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The digitigrade Taeniolabis meme

February 22, 2017

taeniolabis_nt_smallTaeniolabis taoensis by Nobu Tamura.

Taeniolabis, like most multituberculates, has relatively few artistic depictions. What few depictions there are, however, seem to all be plagued by a common feature: digitigrady.

Above is the relatively recent work of Nobu Tamura, uploaded to Wikimedia, which only the latest in a long line:

taeniolabisArtist uncredited but hosted here.


89164541Two depictions (alongside other Paleocene mammals) credited as “De Agostini Picture Library”

s-l500Another uncredited picture, hosted here.

taeniolabis_psitaccotheriumv1_by_avancna-d1gjs3aPicture by Stanton F. Fink (also depicting Psittacotherium, meaning that the animal is also undersized)

fossil_mammal_parade_by_paleoaeolos-d64bdloDepiction (alongside many other mammals) by Martin Chavez; also severely undersized.

This leads me to believe that this is yet another paleomeme, one that seems unjustifiable.

There is some evidence that derived multituberculates displayed facultative digitigrady, and indeed I wouldn’t be surprised that some multies were fully digitigrade. However, from what little I can gather from Taeniolabis‘ tarsal anatomy, it seems to have fit the plantigrade model offered above.

The depiction for it’s closest relative, Kimbetopsalis, by  one of its describers Sarah Shelley, seems to agree on a plantigrade model for taeniolabidids:



Willamson, T.E.,; Brusatte, S.L.,; Secord, R.,; Shelley, S (2015), “A new taeniolabidoid multituberculate (Mammalia) from the middle Puercan of the Nacimiento Formation, New Mexico, and a revision of taeniolabidoid systematics and phylogeny”, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, doi:10.1111/zoj.12336

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