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New fossil find prompts Pangaea split rethink

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Author Topic: New fossil find prompts Pangaea split rethink  (Read 1804 times)
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« on: June 18, 2018, 08:55:56 pm »

(Keck School of Medicine of USC/Jorge A. Gonzalez)

While the animal's large olfactory bulbs indicate it had a strong sense of smell, its eye sockets were tiny, suggesting it had poor eyesight and colour vision. This means the animal was probably nocturnal and depended on its smell to root out food.

"The skull of Cifelliodon is an extremely rare find in a vast fossil-bearing region of the Western Interior, where the more than 150 species of mammals and reptile-like mammal precursors are represented mostly by isolated teeth and jaws," said palaeontologist and study co-author James Kirkland.

As if the discovery is not remarkable enough, the fossil has significantly changed our understanding of mammal evolution.

"For a long time, we thought early mammals from the Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago) were anatomically similar and not ecologically diverse," Huttenlocker said.

"This finding by our team and others reinforce that, even before the rise of modern mammals, ancient relatives of mammals were exploring specialty niches: insectivores, herbivores, carnivores, swimmers, gliders.

"Basically, they were occupying a variety of niches that we see them occupy today."
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