Jurassic fossil mammal discovered in China

This video is called The Fossil Record: intermediate forms are abundant!

Creationists argue that there is a lack of intermediate forms in the Fossil Record. As Miller explains in this video, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, there are so many of them that paleontologists are arguing over what to define them as. (When a fossil is a transitional form between reptile and mammal, what should it be called?)’.

From Shanghai Daily in China:

Chinese and German paleontologists announced yesterday that they have discovered 17 fossil teeth of a new mammal genus that lived 160 million years ago in northwest China’s Xinjiang region.

The fossil mammal teeth were found in 2003 in the Upper Jurassic strata (about 160 million years ago) in the Liuhuanggou area, west of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, by German and Chinese researchers.

Thomas Martin, a professor of paleontology of the University of Bonn in Germany, said: “It is the first time to discover the fossil new taxa of the docodont mammal in the world.”

The fossil mammal named ‘Dsungarodon zuoi’, was smaller in size with a total length of the head and body of only five to seven centimeters, as compared with large modern mammals, the professor said at a geological and environmental change forum held in Urumqi yesterday.

Scientists say the mini-size of the mammal was probably because that they lived in an area of gigantic dinosaurs and they had to run freely and reduce the living space as much as possible for survival.

The lower molar teeth of the mammal have a distinctive ‘pseudo talonid’ used to grind food, reflecting a special line of evolution for the Asian mammals, Martin said.

Research showed that the mammal’s food included plants and insects, he said.

From History News Network:

A fossil of a prehistoric mammal discovered in northeastern China may help scientists figure out how the delicate hearing organs in mammals developed, an article authored by a team of Chinese and American scientists reports in the latest issue of Science.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo was part of the team of paleontologists that studied the small, squirrel-like mammal, termed Maotherium asiaticus, and he co-authored the Science report, which appears in the issue on newsstands tomorrow and is on the publication’s Web site today.

Dr. Luo said paleontologists are especially interested in the development of the modern mammal ear because sensitive hearing is likely what helped mammals survive and diversify.

Prehistoric fossils discovered in China show that tiny creatures resembling moles and monkeys lived in trees and below ground as dinosaurs roamed the earth. Agilodocodon scansorius (“Agile tree-climbing docodont”) and Docofossor brachydactylus (“short-fingered burrowing docodont”) are the oldest known tree-dwelling and burrowing mammaliaforms, respectively. As mammaliaforms, they were not quite true mammals but very closely related. The two species belong to a group of mammal-relatives called Docodonts, animals that lived alongside dinosaurs during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They were both discovered in China, in deposits dated to around 160 million years ago: here.

Pterosaur of the Day – Dsungaripterus: here.

5 thoughts on “Jurassic fossil mammal discovered in China

  1. Rare Fossil Found

    North Dakota`s state paleontologist says it`s a surprise and officials still are trying to figure out just what it is.

    Paleontologist John Hoganson says a public fossil dig in near Marmarth, in the Badlands, uncovered the remains of a mammal about the size of a fox. He says it`s so rare that he`s not been able to identify it.

    The fossil is now being carefully removed from the block of rock in which it was embedded so it can be examined.

    Hoganson says the find could be of a creature never before dug up. The mammal fossil dates to about 65 million years ago.



  2. Carnegie curator’s team discovers ancient mammal
    Wednesday, October 31, 2007
    By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    [Mark A. Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

    The recently discovered Jurassic mammal Pseudotribos was about five inches long, and weighed about one ounce. It had very robust limb bones, possibly for digging. It fed on insects and some plants. In this artistic reconstruction, Pseudotribos is portrayed as foraging among the fallen ginkgo leaves and the scattered shells of conchostracan arthropods on the shore of a shallow freshwater lake.]

    A tiny new Jurassic Period mammal whose specialized cutting and grinding teeth shed light on the evolution of the earliest mammals has been discovered by a team of Chinese and American paleontologists that includes the acting co-director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

    The new mammal, Pseudotribos, just 5 inches long and weighing an estimated 20 to 30 grams, was found in the 165 million-year-old lakebeds of northern China in 2004 but is being reported for the first time today in the international scientific journal Nature.

    Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo, who is curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie and co-director of the Natural History Museum, said the significance of the discovery lies in the mouth of the mammal.

    “The story of the earliest mammals is a story of their teeth,” Dr. Luo said. “By tracing their evolution in the rich fossil records of the Mesozoic, we get to understand how these cutting and grinding teeth evolved over and over again.”


    More on this, see here. And here.


  3. Prehistoric Mammal Hints at Ear’s Evolution


    Oct. 8, 2009 — Researchers digging in north eastern China say they have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown chipmunk-sized mammal that could help explain how human hearing evolved.

    Paleontologists unearthed the 123-million-year-old creature, which is just 15 centimeters (five inches) long, in fossil-rich Liaoning Province, near the Chinese border with North Korea.

    “What is most surprising, and thus scientifically interesting, is the animal’s inner ear,” said Zhe-Xi Luo, a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and one of the study’s authors.

    The condition of the “remarkably well preserved” three dimensional fossil has allowed an international team of researchers to reconstruct how the creature’s middle ear was connected to its jaw.

    The find could be the link that explains how the three bones of the mammalian middle ear became separated from the jaw hinge — where the reptilian ear is found — to form a complex and highly-performing hearing system.

    “Mammals have highly sensitive hearing, far better than the hearing capacity of all other vertebrates, and hearing is fundamental to the mammalian way of life,” said Luo.

    The development of the ear is seen as key to understanding survival techniques that steered mammals, including human ancestors, through the dinosaur-infested mesozoic period around 250 to 66 million years ago.

    “The mammalian ear evolution is important for understanding the origins of key mammalian adaptations,” he said.

    But there are still doubts where the creature, Maotherim asiaticus, fits in the evolutionary chain, and the novel ear connection could simply be a adaptation caused by changes in development, rather than an evolutionary link.

    The report is published in the October 9 issue of the journal Science.


  4. Pingback: Welsh Jurassic mammals feeding, new study | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: How dinosaur age mammals ate | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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