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.

  • Fossils show ancient primates had grooming claws as well as nails
    on June 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Humans and other primates are outliers among mammals for having nails instead of claws. But how, when and why we transitioned from claws to nails has been an evolutionary head-scratcher. […]

  • Discovery of the oldest mammal in Brazil pays tribute to David Bowie
    on June 11, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Brasilestes stardusti lived around 70 million years ago and was named after Ziggy Stardust, the singer's iconic persona. Description was based on a fossilized tooth. It's the 1st indication that placental mammals and dinosaurs co-existed in South America. For scientists, fossil features showed similarities with another pre-historic mammal found in India, suggesting both shared a common ancestral native from the Gondwana supercontinent. […]

  • 'Monstrous' new Russian saber-tooth fossils clarify early evolution of mammal lineage
    on June 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Fossils representing two new species of saber-toothed prehistoric predators have been described. These new species improve the scientists' understanding of an important interval in the early evolution of mammals -- a time, between mass extinctions, when the roles of certain carnivores changed drastically. […]

  • Tiny paragliding beetle that lived with dinosaurs discovered in amber, named 'Jason'
    on June 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Featherwing beetles are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. They get their name from the feathery fringe on their wings that enables them to catch the air and float like dandelion seeds. And, it turns out, they go way back -- scientists discovered a 99-million-year-old featherwing beetle preserved in amber, and they named it "Jason." […]

  • World’s oldest lizard fossil discovered
    on May 30, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Paleontologists have identified the world's oldest lizard, providing key insight into the evolution of modern lizards and snakes. […]

  • Dino-bird dandruff research head and shoulders above rest
    on May 28, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Palaeontologists have discovered 125 million-year-old dandruff preserved amongst the plumage of feathered dinosaurs and early birds, revealing the first evidence of how dinosaurs shed their skin. […]

  • Utah fossil reveals global exodus of mammals' near relatives to major continents
    on May 23, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    A nearly 130-million-year-old fossilized skull found in Utah is an Earth-shattering discovery in one respect. The small fossil is evidence that the super-continental split likely occurred more recently than scientists previously thought and that a group of reptile-like mammals that bridge the reptile and mammal transition experienced an unsuspected burst of evolution across several continents. […]

  • Worm-eating mice reveal how evolution works on islands
    on May 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    When animals are isolated on islands, they can evolve into strange new species found nowhere else on Earth. But what's the cut-off -- how small can an island be and still support the evolution of multiple new species from a single common ancestor? A family of worm-eating mice from a tiny island in the Philippines have set a new lower limit for island size and evolution. […]

  • New shrew species discovered on 'sky island' in Philippines
    on May 9, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    A team of scientists recently identified Palawanosorex muscorum, a new species of shrew known more informally as the Palawan moss shrew. This shrew, found on what Heaney calls a 'sky island,' may help explain why the Philippines is such a hotbed for mammalian biodiversity. […]

  • 25 years of fossil collecting yields clearest picture of extinct 12-foot aquatic predator
    on May 7, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    More than two decades of exploration at a Pennsylvania fossil site have given paleontologists their best idea of how a giant, prehistoric predator would have looked and behaved. […]

  • Unprecedented wave of large-mammal extinctions linked to prehistoric humans
    on April 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and other recent human relatives may have begun hunting large mammal species down to size -- by way of extinction -- at least 90,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study. The magnitude and scale of the extinction wave surpassed any other recorded during the last 66 million years, according to the study. […]

  • New new genus and species of extinct baleen whale identified
    on April 18, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Paleontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of baleen whale, alive more than 27.5 million years ago and found in the Hakataramea Valley, South Canterbury. […]

  • Plants play greater role than megaherbivore extinctions in changes to ecosystem structure
    on April 16, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Plants may have exerted greater influence on our terrestrial ecosystems than the megaherbivores that used to roam our landscapes, according to new research. […]

  • The secret life of teeth: Evo-devo models of tooth development
    on April 11, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    A simple, straightforward developmental rule -- the 'patterning cascade' -- is powerful enough to explain the massive variability in molar crown configuration over the past 15 million years of ape and human evolution. […]

  • Short-faced bears, largest carnivores in the Ice Age, became omnivores to survive
    on March 22, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Based on the analysis of fossil teeth, a study shows that short-faced bears (Arctodus simus), the largest carnivores in the Ice Age, became omnivores to survive. […]

  • 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. […]