Fossil linked to rare sound-making skill

Apr 26, 2006

Duke University paleontologists say a 35-million-year-old fossil they reassembled suggests the discovery of a unique species.

By measuring hundreds of specimens of a 35-million-year-old fossil mammal called Thyrohyrax -- recovered from the fossil beds of Egypt's Fayum Province -- the researchers determined males of the now-extinct species had oversized, swollen lower jaws shaped much like a banana.

The team at the Duke Lemur Center speculate the animals may have used the balloon-like structural chamber that shaped their bizarre jaws to produce sound.

If that speculation is correct, Thyrohyrax and its fossil relatives would be the only mammals ever found to use such a skeletal structure for producing sound, although some dinosaurs are thought to have used similar sound-producing mechanisms.

The researchers published their findings in the March issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, which was released in mid-April.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Science magazine retracts study on voters' gay-rights views

Related Stories

New project aims to establish a human colony on Mars

8 minutes ago

MarsPolar, a newly started international venture is setting its sights on the Red Planet. The project consisting of specialists from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, U.S. and Ukraine has come up with a bol ...

Say Freeze: Photogs do 365-gigapixel sweep of Mont Blanc

1 hour ago

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and has taken on an added distinction as the subject of the world's largest photograph. The Telegraph reported Monday that a photography team accomplished a worl ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria renew mystery over Chilean poet Neruda's death

2 hours ago

Family of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said Thursday forensic experts have found evidence of a massive bacterial infection in his remains, increasing their suspicion that he was poisoned by dictator Augusto Pinochet's regime.

User comments : 0

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.