Classification and discoveryEdit
The fossils were recovered from the lagerstätte of the Yixian Formation in the Liaoning province of China, which is renowned for its extraordinarily well-preserved fossils of feathered dinosaurs. They have been specifically dated to 125-123.2 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous period.
Repenomamus is a genus of triconodonts, a group of early mammals with no modern relatives. R. robustus was described by Li, Wang, Wang and Li in 2000, and R. giganticus was described by Hu, Meng, Wang, Li 2005. The two known species are the sole members of the family Repenomamidae, which was also described in the same paper in 2000. It is sometimes alternatively listed as a member of the family Gobiconodontidae; although this assignment is controversial, a close relationship to this family is well-founded.
Individuals of the known species in Repenomamus are the largest known Mesozoic mammals represented by reasonably complete fossils, adults of R. robustus were the size of a Virginia opossum with an estimated mass of 4–6 kg (8.8–13 lb) while the known adult of R. giganticus was about 50% larger with a total length of around 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and an estimated mass of 12–14 kg (26–31 lb). These finds extend considerably the known body size range of Mesozoic mammals, Repenomamus, in fact, were larger than several sympatric small dromaeosaurid dinosaurs like Graciliraptor. Features of its shoulder and legs bones indicate an sprawling posture as in most of small to medium sized living therian mammals, with plantigrade feet, different from therian mammals however, Repenomamus had proportionally longer bodies with shorter limbs.