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: What we know so far about where humans come from

Related Stories

Normal wear could explain differences in hominin jaw shapes

October 8, 2013

(Phys.org) —Fossil Homo jawbones found at Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia have different shapes. Previously, scientists were unable to explain the reason for their diversity. By comparing the Dmanisi mandibles to jawbones ...

Recommended for you

New fuel cell technology runs on solid carbon

January 22, 2018

Advancements in a fuel cell technology powered by solid carbon could make electricity generation from resources such as coal and biomass cleaner and more efficient, according to a new paper published by Idaho National Laboratory ...

Cells lacking nuclei struggle to move in 3-D environments

January 20, 2018

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have revealed new details of how the physical properties of the nucleus influence how cells can move around different environments - such as ...

Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency

January 19, 2018

Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine's efficiency ...

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.