We describe new material of the insectivoran genus Centetodon and discuss its anatomy and relationships in the context of recently developed hypotheses of mammalian phylogeny. Centetodon shows characters common among insectivoran-grade placental mammals, such as an expanded maxillary contribution to the orbital mosaic and relatively small optic foramina. Additional characters such as an enlarged piriform fenestra and a ventrally convex plane of the alveolar maxilla support its position in a clade with extant Holarctic insectivorans (i.e., erinaceids, Solenodon, soricids, and talpids). Our analysis of a combined genetic-morphological matrix supports the recently proposed hypothesis that Solenodon is the basal-most member of a clade of Holarctic insectivorans, including Centetodon and excluding African tenrecoids. Even though DNA sequences are missing for this and most other extinct taxa, they nevertheless help to identify its phylogenetic relationships by better resolving the clades of extant taxa to which it is related. DNA sequences can also influence the topology of fossils by altering the optimization of morphological characters that are known for extinct taxa. The extent of anatomical convergence in Holarctic and African clades of insectivoran-grade mammals is considerable; nevertheless there are diagnostic features that can help determine the affinities of fossil insectivorans with one of these clades.
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Vol. 25 • No. 4