Small furry animal lived with dinosaurs

January 12, 2006

The fossil of a small, furry insect-eating animal that walked like a platypus has been found in China.

Researchers say the find provides important new clues to the evolution of early mammals, National Geographic News reported.

The well-preserved fossil, found in the province of Liaoning in northeast China, is a previously unknown species of insect-eating mammal that lived alongside dinosaurs some 125 million years ago, National Geographic said.

In a report published in the journal Nature, paleontologists Gang Li and Zhe-Xi Luo said the animal reveals some unexpectedly primitive features, and that it strengthens Asia's claim as the site where the main mammal groups originated.

The animal, named Akidolestes, had jaws, teeth, and forelimbs that identify it as a close relative of modern placental and marsupial mammals. But the researchers said it has a highly unusual back-half to its skeleton similar to that of primitive, egg-laying mammals known as monotremes.

National Geographic said the only living descendants of monotremes are the duck-billed platypus of Australia and two species of spiny anteaters.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Bandicoot and bilby review finds gaps in current knowledge

Related Stories

Rare weasel species makes a comeback in Washington state

December 4, 2016

The elusive weasel-like mammal poked its head out of the wooden crate, glanced around and quickly darted into the thick forest of Mount Rainier National Park—returning to a landscape where it had been missing for seven ...

Herpes not quite so species specific after all

November 8, 2016

A new study challenges the tenet of herpes viruses being strictly host-specific. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Germany have discovered that gammaherpesviruses switch their hosts ...

Weather forecasts for the past

October 24, 2016

Analysis of mammal teeth can reveal local environmental conditions. A new study employs data collected from Kenyan national parks over the past 60 years, combined with traits of the teeth of herbivorous mammals. The results ...

Searching for Ebola's hideout

September 27, 2016

There was a certain kind of quiet hopefulness when, in late April this year, the last Ebola patient of the West African epidemic – a two-year-old boy – walked out of a treatment facility in Monrovia, Liberia. With the ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.