Sparassodont metatherians were the dominant terrestrial mammalian predators during South America's long Cenozoic isolation. This group's early fossil record is very poor, however, particularly for the late Eocene and early Oligocene. Here, we describe a new sparassodont, Chlorocyon phantasma, gen. et sp. nov., based on a specimen from Los Helados, a new locality within the Abanico Formation of the Andean Main Range of central Chile. New 40Ar/39Ar dates at Los Helados bracketing the fossil-bearing level constrain the age of this specimen to 37–36 Ma (late Eocene), indicating that this new taxon likely pertains to the Mustersan South American Land Mammal “Age.” Chlorocyon is the first Paleogene sparassodont reported from Chile and the first sparassodont described from the Abanico Formation. Distinctive features, including a p3 with an anterior edge that is more curved than the posterior edge and the lack of a hypoconulid on m4, suggest that Chlorocyon is a borhyaenoid closely related to Pharsophorus or Plesiofelis, although much smaller. Chlorocyon represents a welcome addition to the sparse record of late Eocene sparassodonts and indicates that the diversity of non-proborhyaenid borhyaenoids prior to the late Oligocene was greater than previously thought.
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Vol. 2018 • No. 3918