Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Half mammal, half reptile fossil discovered in Utah

It may have weighed only 2 1/2 pounds and stood about 6 inches tall, but the discovery of a half mammal, half reptile's skull in eastern Utah has huge implications for geologic timelines. The skull of the new species, Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch, came from a snout-bearing, catlike animal with buck teeth and molars for crushing plants. Its discovery is evidence that the super-continental split of Pangea likely occurred more recently than scientists previously thought — 15 million years later — and that a group of reptile-like mammals experienced an unsuspected burst of evolution across several continents. "Based on the unlikely discovery of this near-complete fossil cranium, we now recognize a new, cosmopolitan group of early mammal relatives," said Adam Huttenlocker, lead author of the study and assistant professor of clinical integrative anatomical sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. This creature, although it was covered in hair and suckled its young, laid eggs like the modern-day platypus...MORE

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