Monday, 5 October 2015

Newly discovered mammal species survived dinosaur extinction

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

9 hours ago 
From the sectionScience & Environment

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.

The news is published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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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