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Gudrun Evans

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Updated 23 February 2012

New and Old Worlds

Database of fossil mammals


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Notes on description of Species

Descriptive species information is recorded under the following categories: Diet, Locomotion, Size and Teeth. Most data fields in these categories follow the definitions described in the ETE manual, and a good example taxon for this type of information is Hispanotherium grimmi within the NOW database.

Additional instructions for a few categories are listed below:

  • Diet 3: used as is, with the recommendation that except for hypothetical, well founded exceptions, the following should be lumped: soft and hard with mixed; seeds, exudates and fr-se-res with fruit.

  • Locomotion 2: use as is, except that semi-fossorial is suppressed (cannot in our opinion be recognised on morphological criteria). We note that small (< 10 kg) "general quadrupeds" (gen_quad) correspond roughly to Peter Andrew's category "semi-arboreal" (small mammals lacking locomotory specialisations for arboreal locomotion but equally able to walk in trees and on the ground).

  • Locomotion 3: The value cursorial should be reserved for forms with joints restricted to movement in the anteroposterior plane. More agile ungulates with more laterally mobile limbs should be classified as gen_quad (general quadruped). Remember that goats can climb trees! With increasing size, this category grades into graviportal.

  • Body Mass & Length: The ETE database allows any number to be entered as the taxon's mean body mass (in grams). The snout-vent length classes of NOW are:
    • Class 1 = very small (<0.1 m)
    • Class 2 = small (0.1-1 m)
    • Class 3 = medium (1-2 m)
    • Class 4 = large (2-5 m)
    • Class 5 = very large (>5 m)

  • Tooth Height: use as is. In doubtful cases select the lower value.