The previously alleged ‘eugnathid amiiform’ Sinoeugnathus kueichowensis is a small-sized halecomorph from the Middle Triassic (Ladinian) marine deposits of Guizhou and Yunnan, China. A morphological redescription and taxonomic revision of this taxon are provided based on a detailed examination of the holotype and 15 new specimens. Studies of these specimens revealed some morphological details previously undescribed or misidentified for this taxon, including a hatchet-shaped antorbital, two broad suborbitals, a sensory canal in the maxilla, and three pairs of extrascapulars. For the first time, Sinoeugnathus was incorporated into an analysis of halecomorph phylogeny, and the results recover it as the sister taxon of the Anisian Subortichthys from Luoping, Yunnan, and both are grouped with two Ladinian genera Allolepidotus and Eoeugnathus from the Monte San Giorgio area into a monophyletic group (namely Subortichthyidae fam. nov. herein) at the base of Ionoscopiformes. This taxonomic reassessment of Subortichthys provides new insights into the phylogeny and paleogeographic evolution of Ionoscopiformes.
We describe here new dental material from the locality of Myaukse Kyitchaung (Pondaung Formation, central Myanmar) that we refer to the primitive Archaeomerycidae ruminant Paukkaungmeryx minutus Ducrocq et al. (2020). The upper molars are morphologically very similar to those of the holotype and exhibit only slight variations on features like the better development of buccal and lingual cingula. The lower teeth display primitive characters including a simple p4 and bunoselenodont lower molars that lack folds on the back of the trigonid wall. This additional material makes Paukkaungmeryx the second archaeomerycid in Pondaung known by upper and lower teeth material, and documents the apparently complex early evolution of the family.
All the extant rhino species belong to Rhinocerotini and either have one horn (a nasal horn) or two horns (a nasal horn and frontal horn). So far, the earliest Rhinocerotini to have been identified in China is the “Dicerorhinus” cixianensis, which was based on a juvenile skull with an associated mandible from the Middle Miocene locality of Jiulongkou in Cixian County, Hebei Province of northern China. Our analyses suggest that there are similarities between this specimen and the modern genus, Dicerorhinus, but it differs in several cranial traits and therefore cannot be assigned to the modern genus. Instead, it is closer to the Middle Miocene Lartetotherium from Europe, especially the specimen from La Retama in Spain and should be assigned to that genus, indicating the presence of intracontinental dispersal at this time. The Jiulongkou fauna is the only Middle Miocene fauna with Rhinocerotini in China, and, together with the faunal composition, this implies a more humid and closed environment, in contrast to those found in western China. We suggest that the position of the posterior border of the nasal notch is a good indication of the specimen’s evolutionary level in Rhinocerotini. The anterior position of the nasal notch as seen in modern Dicerorhinus, together with its certain similarities to L. cixianensis as well as its differences with more specialized species of the Dihoplus-Pliorhinus-Stephanorhinus -Coelodonta lineage, supports the conclusion that Dicerorhinus experienced little change during a nearly 10 Myr evolutionary history, possibly due to the low selection pressure seen in the tropical/subtropical forests in southeastern Asia.
Abundant mammalian fossils were uncovered during the field exploration for Nihewan beds at the beginning of the 1980s along Xinyaozi Ravine at Nangaoya Township of Tianzhen County, Shanxi Province in North China. But most equid material was not yet described except that of Equus stenonis. Six forms of Nihewanian equids were confirmed from the Xinyaozi specimens in the present study, five of which were described for the first time. They include four stenonids such as Equus sanmeniensis, E. teilhardi, E. huanghoensis and E. stenonis, and two hipparionines such as Hipparion (Proboscidipparion) sinense and H. (Plesiohiparrion) shanxiense. The diversification of stenonids in the Early Pleistocene was significant in North China with four taxa in Xinyaozi alone. The persistence of Neogene relics such as hipparionines was still present in the Early Pleistocene with two hipparionine taxa in Xinyaozi. Equus sanmeniensis and H. (Proboscidipparion) sinense were two representative equids not only coexisted in the Early Pleistocene but also widely distributed in China. The diversity of equids also implies the diversified vegetation on which they depended. The hypsodont dentitions and well developed cement, as well as completely molarized premolars of Xinyaozi equids indicate their abrasive diet mostly on monocotyledonous and grassland habitats with considerable scales enough to nourish six taxa of equids.