“Q” is for Qatranitherium

“Q” is for Qatranitherium

I admit it freely. Prior to the A to Z challenge, I had never, ever heard of Qatranitherium. But I needed a “Q” genus, and here we are.

I used my powers of Google-fu, and the hive mind of Twitter to come up with this. Thank you The Joe for finding it.

It would seem that Qatranitherium is a marsupial mammal. You know, the ones with pouches (although not all marsupials have pouches). It was named in 1992, and has since been synonymized with a different genus called Peratherium. This means that Qatranitherium is no longer considered a ‘valid’ term. Everything that has been called Qatranitherium in the past is now called Peratherium.

Its a matter of seniority in taxonomic naming schemes. Sometimes two scientists find two different fossils and give them two different species names. Later, it’s discovered that they are both the same species. Well, one species can’t have two names, so the one that was named first is given precedence, and the newer name is relegated to a ‘junior synonym.’ It’s no longer a valid name, and can’t be used in newer scientific papers.

Back to Qatranitherium, or rather Peratherium.

Peratherium, an opossum-like marsupial mammal.

So he was a cute little squirrelly guy. We can tell Peratherium was a marsupial based upon the structure of its teeth. Marsupial teeth have the same pattern of cusps as placental mammals, but the number and position of teeth is slightly different, and there are subtle differences in the tooth shape.

Peratherium doesn’t quite fit the theme of my A to Z challenge list, because it’s younger (Eocene) in age, and found in Europe, Asia, and Africa rather than in North America. But it does start with a “Q”!

Part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge

For 4-19-13

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