Small, Beaver-like Mammal Survived The Dinosaur Apocalypse

Posted: Oct 5 2015, 10:01pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 6 2015, 12:09am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Small, Beaver-like Mammal Survived the Dinosaur Apocalypse

The mammal managed to thrive millions of years after dinosaur extinction. The fossil remains of the animal were discovered in New Mexico

A recent study finds that asteroid and volcanic eruptions both led to the demise of dinosaurs. Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid slammed the earth and killed about three quarters of earth species including the giant animal. 

The world was literally wrecked after the asteroid impact but a small beaver-like mammal survived the apocalypse. Researchers from University of Nebraska-Lincoln have found the fossil remains of the animal in Northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan Basin during a fieldwork. It belongs to a group of plant-eating mammal called Kimbetopsalis simmonsae.

Kimbetopsalis is estimated at 3 feet long and weighted as much as 45 pounds. It had large molar teeth with numerous cusps or tubercles attached, which was used for grinding down plants. 

“It’s larger than almost all the mammals that lived with the dinosaurs and also had a plant eating diet which few if any dinosaur-living mammals had. It shows just how quickly mammals were evolving in that brave new world after the asteroid cleared out the dinosaurs," Steve Brusatte, Paleontologist of Scotland's University of Edinburgh and co-author of the study said.

"Mammals, which actually originated hundreds of millions of years earlier at the same time as the dinosaurs, now found themselves in an empty world, and they took advantage.”

The animal used to live in lush area of forests, streams and lakes during Paleocene Epoch. It was an era which started after the Cretaceous Period.

Kimbetopsalis was a member of mammalian group multituberculates. The animals in this group are found similar to rodents. The small mammal managed to survive the mass extinction and lived for another 40 million years before they too became extinct. They were able to thrive 120 million years overall and wiped out some 35 million years ago.

“Mammals survived the mass extinction, but they did not pass through unscathed,” New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science curator of paleontology Thomas Williamson said. “I think it would be better to describe those survivors as being lucky. A few just happened to have been adapted to survive the catastrophe, probably because they were small, could hide in the burrows and eat bugs.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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