Fossil linked to rare sound-making skill

April 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: A weird combination of Deinotherium and Platybelodon- Elephantiformes without ivories

Related Stories

Tiny new fossil crocodile-relative had mammal-like teeth

October 11, 2016

In the dinosaur-rich fossil beds of Morocco, dated to about 100 million years ago, scientists have discovered a strange new crocodile. A fossil was found of an upper and lower jaw preserved together, with oddly shaped teeth. ...

Veggievore fish of the Triassic

September 26, 2016

Fish have a bit of a boring reputation among many vertebrate paleontologists–too many bones, too hard to identify, not as charismatic as dinosaurs, etc., etc. But, this is entirely undeserved (and I say that as a dinosaur ...

Research to answer a 'crushing' evolutionary question

October 5, 2016

Studying the physical features of long-extinct creatures continues to yield surprising new knowledge of how evolution fosters traits desirable for survival in diverse environments. Placodonts are a case in point—specifically, ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new rules for quasicrystals

October 25, 2016

Crystals are defined by their repeating, symmetrical patterns and long-range order. Unlike amorphous materials, in which atoms are randomly packed together, the atoms in a crystal are arranged in a predictable way. Quasicrystals ...

Turning CO2 to stone

October 25, 2016

Earth has limits to the amount of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere before the environment as we know it starts to change. Too much CO2 absorbed by the oceans makes the water more acidic. Too much in the atmosphere warms the ...

Microbe hunters discover iron-munching microbe

October 25, 2016

A microbe that 'eats' both methane and iron: microbiologists have long suspected its existence, but were not able to find it - until now. Researchers at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology ...

Study reveals human ability to make ourselves sound bigger

October 25, 2016

Research from the University of Sussex suggests that humans are unique among primates in being able to intentionally alter the frequencies of our voices to sound larger or smaller than we really are, a capacity that is likely ...


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.