Early Mammals

Early Mammals News -- ScienceDaily Prehistoric Mammal News. From the first swimming mammals to a banana-jawed fossil mammal, read about all the news in paleontology. Current science articles and images.

  • ‘Euro Devil’: Fossil of carnivorous marsupial relative discovered in E Europe
    on August 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Scientists have discovered fossil remains of a new carnivorous mammal in Turkey, one of the biggest marsupial relatives ever discovered in the northern hemisphere. […]

  • First winged mammals from the Jurassic period discovered
    on August 9, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Two 160-million-year-old mammal fossils discovered in China show that the forerunners of mammals in the Jurassic Period evolved to glide and live in trees. With long limbs, long hand and foot fingers, and wing-like membranes for tree-to-tree gliding, Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomylos are the oldest known gliders in the long history of early mammals. […]

  • New 13-million-year-old infant skull sheds light on ape ancestry
    on August 9, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    A new discovery in Kenya of a remarkably complete fossil ape skull reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like. […]

  • On the early human's menu: Mammoth and plenty of raw vegetables
    on August 4, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Scientists have studied the diet of anatomically modern humans, and are able to refute the theory that the diet of early representatives of Homo sapiens was more flexible than that of Neanderthals. Just like the Neanderthals, our ancestors had mainly mammoth and plants on their plates. The researchers were unable to document fish as part of their diet. Therefore, the international team assumes that the displacement of the Neanderthals was the result of direct competition. […]

  • Our ancestors were already warm-blooded just before the Permian-Triassic extinction event
    on July 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    For how long have warm-blooded animals existed? The time at which this character first appeared in the ancestors of mammals has long been debated. Now, dating analyses carried out on 90 fossils have shown that warm-blooded species first appeared among our ancestors during the Late Permian, 252 -- 259 million years ago. In addition, this new character may have enabled them to survive the Permian-Triassic extinction event, 252 million years ago […]

  • Australian study uses new technique to challenge brain development hypothesis
    on July 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    A new study, which might be useful for biomedical research, rewrites parts of the rulebook on how mammalian brains -- including our own -- could have evolved. It includes the possibility that distinctive dominance of our own cerebral hemispheres is not, as previously suggested, just a side-effect that forces brains of a particular size to have particular proportions. […]

  • Previously unknown extinction of marine megafauna discovered
    on June 26, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Over two million years ago, a third of the largest marine animals like sharks, whales, sea birds and sea turtles disappeared. This previously unknown extinction event not only had a considerable impact on the earth's historical biodiversity but also on the functioning of ecosystems. […]

  • A skull with history: A fossil sheds light on the origin of the neocortex
    on June 26, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    According to a recent study an early relative of mammals already possessed an extraordinarily expanded brain with a neocortex-like structure. […]

  • 'Star dust' wasp is a new extinct species named after David Bowie's alter ego
    on June 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    During her study on fossil insects at China's Capitol Normal University, a student visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA, carrying two unidentified wasp specimens that were exceptionally well-preserved and 100 million years old. Close examination revealed that both were species new to science. Furthermore, one of them was found to belong to a genus of modern wasps. […]

  • Reconstruction of ancient chromosomes offers insight into mammalian evolution
    on June 21, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Researchers have gone back in time, at least virtually, computationally recreating the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals. […]

  • Brazilian carnivorous mammal-like reptile fossil may be new Aleodon species
    on June 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Some Late Triassic Brazilian fossils of mammal-like reptiles, previously identified as Chiniquodon, may in fact be the first Aleodon specimens found outside Africa. […]

  • Ancient otter tooth found in Mexico suggests mammals migrated across America
    on June 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    An ancient otter tooth recently discovered in Mexico suggests certain mammals migrated across America during the Miocene geologic epoch, roughly 23 million to 5.3 million years ago. The new hypothesized route questions other theories such as migrations above Canada and through Panama, and has implications for a much larger biologic event -- the Great American Biotic Interchange, when land bridges were formed and animals dispersed to and from North America and South America. […]

  • Whales only recently evolved into giants when changing ice, oceans concentrated prey
    on May 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    A team of scientists have traced the evolution of whale size through more than 30 million years of history and found that very large whales appeared along several branches of the family tree about 2 to 3 million years ago. Increasing ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere during this period likely altered the way whales' food was distributed in the oceans and enhanced the benefits of a large body size, the scientists say. […]

  • Warm-bloodedness possibly much older than previously thought
    on May 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Warm-bloodedness in land animals could have evolved much earlier than previously thought, suggests a study of the bones of the long-extinct mammal predecessor Ophiacodon. […]

  • Secrets behind T. rex's bone crushing bites: T. rex could crush with 8,000 pound bite forces
    on May 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    The giant Tyrannosaurus rex pulverized bones by biting down with forces equaling the weight of three small cars while simultaneously generating world record tooth pressures, according to a new study. […]

  • A mammoth task: How do we decide which species to resurrect?
    on May 16, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    The resurrection of vanished species -- through cutting-edge technologies such as gene-editing -- should be targeted towards recently extinct species rather than ancient ones, according to a conservation biologist. He suggests that long-gone species such as the woolly mammoth would not be the best focus for de-extinction efforts. […]

  • Baleen whales' ancestors were toothy suction feeders
    on May 11, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Modern whales' ancestors probably hunted and chased down prey, but somehow, those fish-eating hunters evolved into filter-feeding leviathans. An analysis of a 36.4-million-year-old whale fossil suggests that before baleen whales lost their teeth, they were suction feeders that most likely dove down and sucked prey into their mouths. The study also shows that whales most likely lost the hind limbs that stuck out from their bodies more recently than previously estimated. […]

  • DNA from extinct humans discovered in cave sediments
    on April 27, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Researchers have developed a new method to retrieve hominin DNA from cave sediments -- even in the absence of skeletal remains. […]

  • Genetic evidence points to nocturnal early mammals
    on April 20, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    New genetic evidence suggesting that early mammals had good night-time vision adds to fossil and behavioral studies indicating that early mammals were nocturnal. […]

  • Giant sloth was vegetarian: Diet of fossil megatherium decoded
    on April 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Scientists have examined the diet of the extinct Giant Sloth Megatherium. Based on analyses of the collagen in the fossil bones, the researchers concluded in their study that Megatherium subsisted on an exclusively vegetarian diet. Until recently, there had been much speculation about the food habits of these elephant-sized, ground-dwelling animals. […]

  • The last 'caimans' living in Spain
    on March 29, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Sixteen million years ago, the reptile Diplocynodon ratelii lived in wooded ecosystems among the lakes and pools of what we know today as Catalonia (Spain). Fossils found at the Els Casots site in the Vallès-Penedès Basin confirm not only that these are the most recent remains of the genus in the Iberian Peninsula, but also that temperatures at the time were higher than today's. […]

  • How chewing like a cow helped early mammals thrive
    on March 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Mammal teeth, jaw bones and muscles evolved to produce side-to-side motions of the jaw, or yaw, that allowed our earliest ancestors to grind food with their molars and eat a more diversified diet, suggests a new report. […]

  • 430 million-year-old fossil named in honor of Sir David Attenborough
    on March 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    A new 430 million-year-old fossil has been discovered by scientists, and has been named in honor of Sir David Attenborough. The discovery is a unique example of its kind in the fossil record, say the authors of a new report. […]

  • Human skull evolved along with two-legged walking, study confirms
    on March 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    The evolution of bipedalism in fossil humans can be detected using a key feature of the skull -- a claim that was previously contested but now has been further validated by researchers. […]

  • Pattern of mammal dwarfing during global warming
    on March 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    More than 50 million years ago, when the Earth experienced a series of extreme global warming events, early mammals responded by shrinking in size. While this mammalian dwarfism has previously been linked to the largest of these events, new research has found that this evolutionary process can happen in smaller, so-called hyperthermals, indicating an important pattern that could help shape an understanding of underlying effects of current human-caused climate change. […]

  • The controversial origin of a symbol of the American west
    on March 13, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    New research has identified North America's oldest bison fossils and helped construct a bison genealogy establishing that a common maternal ancestor arrived between 130,000 and 195,000 years ago, during a previous ice age. […]

  • Crocodiles and dolphins evolved similar skulls to catch the same prey
    on March 8, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Despite their very different ancestors, dolphins and crocodiles evolved similarly shaped skulls to feed on similar prey, new research indicates. […]

  • Evolution of bipedalism in ancient dinosaur ancestors
    on March 3, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Paleontologists have developed a new theory to explain why the ancient ancestors of dinosaurs stopped moving about on all fours and rose up on just their two hind legs. […]

  • Woolly mammoths experienced a genomic meltdown just before extinction
    on March 2, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Dwindling populations created a 'mutational meltdown' in the genomes of the last woolly mammoths, which had survived on an isolated island until a few thousand years ago, report researchers. […]

  • Newfound primate teeth take a big bite out of the evolutionary tree of life
    on February 28, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Fossil hunters have found part of an ancient primate jawbone related to lemurs -- the primitive primate group distantly connected to monkeys, apes and humans, a researcher reports. Scientists named the new species Ramadapis sahnii and said that it existed 11 to 14 million years ago. It is a member of the ancient Sivaladapidae primate family, consumed leaves and was about the size of a house cat. […]