Discovery of Oligocene-aged mammals in Glacier National Park (Kishenehn Formation), Montana

Jonathan J. CALEDE, Kurt N. CONSTENIUS, Nicholas A. FAMOSO & Winifred A. KEHL

en Geodiversitas 46 (9) - Pages 367-386

Published on 24 June 2024

The Kishnehn Formation crops out in Glacier National Park of northwest Montana where a rich fossil record of plant macrofossils, pollen and spores, insects, terrestrial and aquatic mollusks, and fish has been unearthed. Past research has also described an extensive mammal fauna from the Eocene (Uintan-Chadronian). Oligocene-aged fossil mammals have been reported before, but none has ever been published in the peer-reviewed literature. Here, we present the first Arikareean-aged fossil mammals from the Kishenehn Formation, the youngest fossil mammals ever discovered in the park. The fossils consist of a set of lower jaws of the leptomerycid Pronodens transmontanus (Douglas, 1903) and a partial lower jaw of the rodent Paciculus montanus Black, 1961, both endemics of the northern Rocky Mountains. These new fossils enable us to explore the morphological variation in Pronodens Koerner, 1940 and Paciculus Cope, 1879. Our analyses suggest the existence of a single widely distributed and sometimes locally abundant species of Pronodens, which may co-occur with a rare and very large second species. Our revised diagnoses for the genus and species show the need for additional work on this little-studied artiodactyl genus. Similar efforts on the systematics of cricetid rodents will benefit from building upon our analysis of tooth morphology in Paciculus to shed light on the rise of leidymines. The last fossil we describe, partial paired dentaries of Miohippus Marsh, 1874, is the northern-most occurrence of the genus in the Rocky Mountains and shows the potential for future work in the Kishenehn Formation to enable the study of faunal change across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary in the northern Rocky Mountains.


Arikareean, Miohippus, Paciculus, Pronodens, Rocky Mountains

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