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: A two generation lens: Current state policies fail to support families with young children

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

3 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

3 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

3 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

3 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Recommended for you

New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

7 hours ago

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State Univer ...

Scholar tracks the changing world of gay sexuality

11 hours ago

With same-sex marriage now legalized in 19 states and laws making it impossible to ban homosexuals from serving in the military, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are now enjoying more freedoms and rights than ever before.

User comments : 0