Newly discovered mammal species survived dinosaur extinction

Oct 13, 2015

Steve Brusatte/University of Edinburgh

By Victoria Gill

Scientists have discovered a species of ancient mammal that survived the event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The remains of this large, rodent-like creature give clues about how mammals “took over” when dinosaurs died out.

Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, as the newly discovered species has been named, was a plant-eating creature that resembled a beaver.

Dr Stephen Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh, lead researcher on the study, explained how a student on his team called Carissa Raymond found the fossil while prospecting at a site in New Mexico, US.

“We realised pretty quickly that this was a totally new type of mammal that no-one has seen before,” he told BBC News.

The researchers noticed in particular the animal’s teeth, which were specialised for plant-chewing, with complicated rows of cusps at the back and incisors at the front for gnawing.

They named the species after Kimbeto Wash, the area in the New Mexico badlands where it was found.

“The other part of the name – psalis – means ‘cutting shears’ and is in reference to [the] blade-like teeth,” Dr Brusatte explained.

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2 comments on “Newly discovered mammal species survived dinosaur extinction

  • Researchers say the beaverish creature may have flourished when other
    species perished because of teeth perfectly suited for the
    post-apocalyptic vegetation.

    No competent evolutionary biologist should ever say “perfectly” suited (= “perfectly adapted). There is NO such thing as a “PERFECT” adaptation and mammals were not “waiting” for the dinosaurs to become extinct. That would be a teleological comment.

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  • It is important to understand that Cretaceous mammals were probably adapted to nocturnal living and therefore it turned out to be a preadaptation for surviving cold and darkness of a post meteorite collision with the earth at the beginning of the Cenozoic.

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