New Species Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae Found By Undergraduate

Posted: Oct 5 2015, 8:37pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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New Specis Kimbetopsalis simmonsae found by Undergraduate
This is a reconstruction of Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, a rodent-like multituberculate mammal species discovered by UNL student Carissa Raymond during a 2014 fossil hunting trip. (Courtesy photo/Sarah Shelley, University of Edinburgh)

A student found an incredible fossil that is from an unknown species.

Just imagine, you go on your first fossil-hunting trip and find the remains of a previously unknown species. That is what happened to University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Carissa Raymond.

She found a specimen of a previously unknown mammal species from about 65 million years ago. The Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae, a rodent-like multituberculate mammal species lived with the dinosaurs for more than 100 million years. They survived the events that lead to the dinosaur's extinction and died out 40 million years ago.

The new species was discovered in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico in 2014. "When Carissa found this thing and brought it to me, I instantly suspected it was new," said Project leader Thomas Williamson, curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. "I'd never seen anything like this before."

Carissa Raymond

(Carissa Raymond. Credit: Craig Chandler/University Communications)

Along with jaws from both sides of the head containing molars and premolars, Raymond found front incisors and part of the brain case. Although fossils of a multituberculate species called Taeniolabis are common in certain rocks in the area, this specimen was found in an older bed. It was somewhat smaller and its teeth appeared too different to be the same species.

After comparing the new fossils with others from around the world, Williamson, Secord and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh concluded Raymond had found a new species, which they named Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae, after the wash where it was found and a scientist who has studied the mammals.

"I knew it was cool -- but not this cool," Raymond said of her find.

Kimbetopsalis Simmonsae is described in an article published online today by the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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