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.

  • Ancient reptile Captorhinus could detach its tail to escape predator's grasp
    on March 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    A new study shows how a group of small reptiles who lived 289 million years ago could detach their tails to escape the grasp of their would-be predators -- the oldest known example of such behavior. […]

  • Mammals share mechanisms controlling the heart with a 400 million-year-old fish
    on March 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Primitive air-breathing fish, whose direct ancestors first appeared around 400 million years ago, show mechanisms controlling the heart which were previously considered to be found only in mammals -- according to a new study. […]

  • Complete genomes of extinct and living elephants sequenced
    on February 26, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Researchers have produced one of the most comprehensive evolutionary pictures to date by looking at one of the world's most iconic animal families - namely elephants, and their relatives mammoths and mastodons-spanning millions of years. […]

  • Ancient trail of Columbian mammoths uncovered in south-central Oregon
    on February 12, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    A fossilized trackway on public lands in Lake County, Ore., may reveal clues about the ancient family dynamics of Columbian mammoths. Researchers who excavated a portion of the path found 117 footprints thought to represent a number of adults as well as juvenile and infant mammoths. […]

  • 'Middle Earth' preserved in giant bird dung
    on February 12, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    While the giant birds that once dominated New Zealand are all extinct, a study of their preserved dung (coprolites) has revealed many aspects of their ancient ecosystem, with important insights for ongoing conservation efforts. […]

  • Iberian Peninsula rodents migrated due to climate change 12 million years ago
    on February 6, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Changes in Southwestern Europe's climate which happened between 12 and 5 million years ago had a drastic impact over the rodent communities. These profound changes in environmental conditions led to a separation between species adapted to arid environments which migrated to interior regions of the Iberian Peninsula and species adapted to humid environments thriving where Catalonia and France are today, according to a new study. […]

  • Dinosaur age meets the space age
    on January 31, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    A slab of sandstone found on the campus of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland may help scientists rewrite the history of mammal and dinosaur co-existence during the Cretaceous era. […]

  • Modern humans vs. giant animals: Mega-herbivores were displaced by humans who partly took their...
    on January 30, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Scientists have studied the extinction of mega-herbivores -- plant-eating animals that weighed more than one ton -- that occurred approx. 12,000 years ago. The scientists reached the conclusion that, on the one hand, modern man was the cause of these giant terrestrial animals' extinction, and on the other hand, humans took over part of the animals' ecosystem functions. […]

  • Mammals and birds could have best shot at surviving climate change 
    on January 29, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    New research that analyzed more than 270 million years of data on animals shows that mammals and birds -- both warm-blooded animals -- may have a better chance of evolving and adapting to the Earth's rapidly changing climate than their cold-blooded peers, reptiles and amphibians. […]

  • Giant extinct burrowing bat discovered in New Zealand
    on January 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    The fossilized remains of a giant burrowing bat that lived in New Zealand millions of years ago have been found by a UNSW Sydney-led international team of scientists. Teeth and bones of the extinct bat -- which was about three times the size of an average bat today -- were recovered from 19 to 16-million-year-old sediments near the town of St Bathans in Central Otago on the South Island. […]

  • Sumatran rhinos never recovered from losses during the Pleistocene, genome evidence shows
    on December 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    An international team of researchers has sequenced and analyzed the first Sumatran rhino genome from a sample belonging to a male made famous at the Cincinnati Zoo. This study shows that the trouble for Sumatran rhinoceros populations began a long time ago, around the middle of the Pleistocene, about one million years ago. […]

  • It's all in the ears: Inner ears of extinct sea monsters mirror those of today's animals
    on December 7, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    A new study has revealed that an extinct group of marine reptiles called sauropterygians evolved similar inner ear proportions to those of some modern day aquatic reptiles and mammals. […]

  • Genes identified that distinguish mammals from other animals
    on December 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    What distinguishes Homo sapiens from other living beings? And the group of mammals? What makes them different? Researchers analysed the already-sequenced genomes of 68 mammals and identified 6,000 families of genes that are only found in these animals. These are genes with no homologues outside mammals, in other words, they are not present in other hairless species. In humans, it is estimated that they represent 2.5% of the genes that code for proteins. […]

  • More mammoth bones recovered from Michigan farm where skull, tusks and dozens of intact bones of an...
    on November 30, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Paleontologists conducted a second excavation this week at the Chelsea-area farm where the skull, tusks and dozens of intact bones of an ice age mammoth were pulled from the ground in late 2015. […]

  • A sub-desert savanna spread across Madrid 14 million years ago
    on November 17, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    The current landscape of Madrid city and its vicinity was really different 14 million years ago. A semi-desert savanna has been inferred for the center of the Iberian Peninsula in the middle Miocene. This ecosystem was characterized by a very arid tropical climatic regime with up to ten months of drought per year, according to a recent paper. Scientists reached such conclusions after comparing mammal fauna with Africa and Asia ones. […]

  • Finger and toe fossils belonged to tiny primates 45 million years ago
    on November 9, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    A new study identifies nearly 500 minuscule finger and toe bones as belonging to 45-million-year-old tiny primates. Many of the fossils are so small they rival the diminutive size of a mustard seed. Representing nine different taxonomic families of primates and as many as 25 species, the specimens from China include numerous fossils attributed to Eosimias, the very first anthropoid known to date, and three fossils attributed to a new and more advanced anthropoid. […]

  • Humankind's earliest ancestors discovered in southern England
    on November 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Fossils of the oldest mammals related to humankind have been discovered on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in the UK. The two teeth are from small, rat-like creatures that lived 145 million years ago in the shadow of the dinosaurs. They are the earliest undisputed fossils of mammals belonging to the line that led to human beings. […]

  • Mammals switched to daytime activity after dinosaur extinction
    on November 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Mammals only started being active in the daytime after non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out about 66 million years ago (mya), finds a new study. […]

  • Caribbean islands reveal a 'lost world' of ancient mammals
    on November 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    An analysis of the incredibly diverse "lost world" of Caribbean fossils includes dozens of ancient mammals, a new study reports. The study reveals that the arrival of humans throughout the islands was likely the primary cause of the extinction of native mammal species there. […]

  • Male mammoths more often fell into 'natural traps' and died, DNA evidence suggests
    on November 2, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Researchers who have sexed 98 woolly mammoth specimens collected from various parts of Siberia have discovered that the fossilized remains more often came from males of the species than females. They speculate that this skewed sex ratio exists in the fossil record because inexperienced male mammoths more often traveled alone and got themselves killed by falling into natural traps that made their preservation more likely. […]

  • 'Mega-carnivore' dinosaur roamed southern Africa 200 million years ago
    on October 25, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    An international team of scientists has discovered the first evidence that a huge carnivorous dinosaur roamed southern Africa 200 million year ago. […]

  • 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. […]