Thursday, 6 November 2014

Dino-Era Mammal Had Excellent Hearing, Rare Skull Reveals

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | November 05, 2014 02:47pm ET

Dinosaurs that lumbered around the ancient supercontinent Gondwana had a warm-blooded neighbor — a "chewing machine" with big eyes, excellent hearing and an acute sense of smell, according to a new study.

A team of researchers led by David Krause, a professor of anatomical sciences at Stony Brook University in New York, serendipitously discovered the skull of the primitive mammal (Vintana sertichi) in Madagascar in 2010, while searching for fossils of aquatic creatures. It belongs to a group of elusive extinct mammals called gondwanatherians, which scientists had previously only known about from several teeth andlower jaw fragments.

The newly discovered and well-preserved skull reveals details about the mysterious mammal, which lived about 72 million to 66 million years ago.

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