Extant perissodactyls (horses, rhinos, and tapirs) comprise a small portion of living mammals, but fossil perissodactyls were more diverse and commonly dominated Paleogene faunas. Unfortunately, the taxonomy and distribution of some Chinese Paleogene perissodactyls remain controversial and unclear, hampering the correlation of Asian paleofaunas with paleofaunas from other continents. Here we clarify the temporal and spatial distribution of Paleogene perissodactyl species from the Erlian Basin based on published specimens, archives, and our recent fieldwork. The strata of the Erlian Basin range nearly continuously from the late Paleocene to the early Oligocene, and almost all Eocene Asian Land Mammal Ages (ALMA) are based on corresponding faunas from the Erlian Basin. We revise the most complete section of deposits at Erden Obo (= Urtyn Obo) that range in age from the late Paleocene to the early Oligocene in the Erlian Basin, and correlate it with other type formations/faunas in the basin based mainly on the perissodactyl biostratigraphy and lithostratigraphy. Furthermore, we discuss perissodactyl faunal components and their diversity from the early Eocene to the early Oligocene in the Erlian Basin, as well as the correlation between middle Eocene ALMAs and North American Land Mammal Ages based on perissodactyl fossils. The general decrease in perissodactyl diversity from the middle Eocene to the late Eocene can probably be attributed to a global climatic cooling trend and related environmental changes. The diversity of perissodactyls declined distinctly during the Eocene-Oligocene Transition, when global average temperatures dropped considerably.
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Vol. 2018 • No. 3914