In Asia, the first find of an eomyid rodent was reported almost one century after the first studies of the family Eomyidae in North America and Europe. Since then, eomyid rodents have been increasingly found in Asia particularly over the past two decades. Here, we review the Asian record of this family at the genus level. Currently, 22 species within 14 genera were reported from Asia, including seven endemic genera and rare materials of apeomyine eomyids. Eomyids emphasize the palaeogeographic importance of Asia in considering intercontinental dispersal events of small mammals. With newly compiled data for Asian eomyids, we also compare genus-level diversity trends through time among North America, Europe, and Asia. Despite data standardizations limited with respect to potential biases in the fossil record, we found that the Asian eomyid diversity closely follows ecological shifts induced by climate changes. In general, Asian eomyid genera disappeared earlier than their European counterparts. We suggest that this pattern is not dictated by differences in the quality of the fossil record and is related to the expansion of drier habitats over large areas of Asia.
Key wordsRodentia, Eomyidae, palaeobiogeography, intercontinental dispersal, Valley of Lakes, Nei Mongol, Inner Mongolia, Junggar Basin, endemism
For two hundred years the status of rodent suborders has been unstable. What are the natural groupings of extant rodent families? The formal recognition of rodent suborders has remained challenging and consensus has been elusive. Classically conceived rodent suborders are widely viewed as artificial, but no universally accepted classification has emerged to reflect the major features of rodent evolution. Over the last two decades molecular studies have established that extant rodents comprise three monophyletic clades. We review the molecular basis for these groups and recognize them as taxonomic units: Suborder Ctenohystrica HUCHON et al., 2000, Suborder Supramyomorpha D’ELÍA et al., 2019, and a group of families clustered with Sciuridae. The latter differs from Sciuromorpha as traditionally conceived because the suborder includes Aplodontiidae but excludes Castoridae. We review morphological character complexes that are distributed broadly within these three clades, name the third group Eusciurida, new suborder, and find this three-fold division of extant Rodentia to reflect well the major features of rodent phylogeny. That some morphological features do not characterize all families within suborders, or are not unique to individual suborders, indicates major parallel innovations and reversals in rodent evolution. These incongruent morphologies invite future study.