“F” is for Fractinus

“F” is for Fractinus.

The genus Fractinus, and it’s only species F. palmorem, is my singular paleontological claim to fame. This is the only species (and genus) that I’ve ever named.

Fractinus is a curious multituberculate mammal. It clearly is a multituberculate, based upon the structure of the tooth. For a long time, I thought it might be a new species of the Genus Pentacosmodon.

In the end, I decided it was so distinct from all other multituberculate taxa, that I named a whole new genus, not just a new species. I think I could have justified naming a new family of multituberculates, but I’m not fond of inundating the literature will all manner of new taxonomic terms.

The identification is based upon one and a half teeth, both of which represent the same tooth position (Lp4). This means that the two specimens I have represent two different individuals.

SEM image of the type specimen of the multituberculate Fractinus palmorem UW 27063 from locality V-90043

SEM image of the type specimen of the multituberculate Fractinus palmorem UW 27063 from locality V-90043

Fractinus palmorem 6

SEM image of the other specimen of the multituberculate Fractinus palmorem UW 28389 from locality V-96010

Fractinus palmorem 2

Notes on the morphology of the type specimen of Fractinus

Fractinus palmorem 1

Measurements of the type specimen of Fractinus

I had another page of notes somewhere on these specimens. I loved what those notes looked like so much, I converted them into a watercolor painting (that I still have not finished).

Notes on Fractinus palmorem a new genus and species of mammal from the Hanna Basin of Wyoming. Watercolor and pen and ink. Graduate school. All rights reserved.

Notes on Fractinus palmorem a new genus and species of mammal from the Hanna Basin of Wyoming. Watercolor and pen and ink. Graduate school. All rights reserved.

Every year, I go back to the localities where I originally found these two specimens, hoping to find some more. No luck yet, but I’m heading out that way one more time later this summer. We’ll see!

Updated April 7, 2013:

It occurs to me that I failed to mention where I came up with the name Fractinus palmorem. Many people ask where we, as scientists, come up with new names. In this case, Fractinus comes from the Latin root fractus, which means to break. This is a nod to my field area, The Breaks. I suppose I could have called it something like Fractitherium, which would have meant “beast from The Breaks.” I went with Fractinus instead.

The trivial name, palmorem, is given in honor of the land owners, Burt and Kay-lynn Palm, who’ve always let us go out there and spend time on their land. They don’t have to let us go out there. It’s palmorem, not palmi, because it’s named after two people, not just one.

Part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge.

For 4-6-13

 

17 thoughts on ““F” is for Fractinus

  1. Why, thank you! I decided to do the Paleocene mammals A to Z in part to post some of the sketches I did all those years ago. I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

  2. It was both exiting and terrifying. But thus far, the new genus has stood up against scrutiny and the paleontological community is eager to learn more.

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