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.

  • New tyrannosaur fossil is most complete found in Southwestern US
    on October 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    A fossilized skeleton of a tyrannosaur discovered in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was airlifted by helicopter Oct 15, and delivered to the Natural History Museum of Utah where it will be uncovered, prepared, and studied. The fossil is approximately 76 million years old and is likely an individual of the species Teratophoneus curriei. […]

  • Ancient preen oil: Researchers discover 48-million-year-old lipids in a fossil bird
    on October 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage. […]

  • Fanged kangaroo research could shed light on extinction
    on October 16, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Fanged kangaroos -- an extinct family of small fanged Australian kangaroos -- might have survived at least five million years longer than previously thought. A new study has found the species might have competed for resources with ancestors of modern kangaroos. […]

  • Mass extinctions led to low species diversity, dinosaur rule
    on October 10, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Two of Earth's five mass extinction events -- times when more than half of the world's species died -- resulted in the survival of a low number of so-called 'weedy' species that spread their sameness across the world as the Earth recovered from these dramatic upheavals. The findings could shed light on modern high extinction rates and how biological communities may change in the future. […]

  • Monstrous crocodile fossil points to early rise of ancient reptiles
    on October 3, 2017 at 12:22 am

    A newly identified prehistoric marine predator has shed light on the origins of the distant relatives of modern crocodiles. […]

  • 3-D analysis of dog fossils sheds light on domestication debate
    on September 20, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    In an effort to settle the debate about the origin of dog domestication, a technique that uses 3-D scans of fossils is helping researchers determine the difference between dogs and wolves. […]

  • When ancient fossil DNA isn't available, ancient glycans may help trace human evolution
    on September 11, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Researchers have discovered a new kind of glycan (sugar chain) that survives even in a 4-million-year-old animal fossil from Kenya, under conditions where ancient DNA does not. While ancient hominin fossils are not yet available for glycan analysis, this proof-of-concept study sets the stage for unprecedented explorations of human origins and diet. […]

  • Why are fossilized hairs so rare?
    on September 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    When it comes to preserving body parts, fossilized hair is rare--five times rarer than feathers--despite being an important tool for understanding ancient species. This finding has researchers trying to determine if the lack of hair in the fossil record has to do with physical traits that might make it more difficult for hair to fossilize, or an issue with scientists' collection techniques that could lead to them missing important finds. […]

  • Fossil whales' teeth shows what ferocious predators they were
    on August 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    The feeding habits of the whale -- the world's biggest animal -- have evolved to filter feeding, shows new international research. Ancient whales appear to have been ferocious predators, investigators explain. […]

  • Fossils reveal how bizarre mammal beat extinction
    on August 24, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Animals that live on islands are among the most at risk from extinction. A remarkable eighty percent of extinctions occurring since 1500AD have been on islands, with inhabitants facing dangers from climate change, sea level rise, invasive species, and human interactions. […]

  • Variation in the recovery of tetrapods after the Permian extinction opened the door for dinosaurs...
    on August 24, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    The end-Permian mass extinction (EPME) occurred about 250 million years ago and represents the Earth's most catastrophic extinction event. […]

  • Bleats and trills evolved multiple times to aid in 'caller ID'
    on August 24, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Sheep, giant pandas, mouse lemurs, and fur seals all have something in common when it comes to communication. All of them produce calls with rapid, vibrato-like fundamental frequency modulation -- commonly known as bleats or trills. Now, researchers think they know why that call feature has arisen multiple times over the course of evolution: it improves the ability of listeners to detect call components that provide important identifying information about a caller. […]

  • Dolphin that existed along South Carolina coast long ago
    on August 23, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Researchers have discovered a species of extinct dolphin off the coast of South Carolina. […]

  • Understanding Caribbean mammal extinctions of the past spurs renewed focus on conservation
    on August 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Paleontologists report they have clear evidence that the arrival of humans and subsequent human activity throughout the islands of the Caribbean were likely the primary causes of the extinction of native mammal species there. The evidence, they say, highlights the need for urgent human intervention to protect the native mammal species still inhabiting the region. […]

  • Surprising new feature defines placental mammals as a group
    on August 23, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    By performing detailed dissections and corresponding examinations of embryological development, researchers show that the muscles that control the unique mammalian perineal structures follow a surprisingly ancient pattern. […]

  • A potential breeding site of a Miocene era baleen whale
    on August 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Baleen whales are amongst the largest animals to have ever lived and yet very little is known about their breeding habits. One researcher's second look at previously found baleen whale fossils from Japan provides new evidence of a now long-gone breeding ground of the extinct baleen whale Parietobalaena yamaokai dating back over 15 million years. […]

  • ‘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. […]