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Ancient cynodont discovered 220 million years old



Ancient cynodont discovered 220 million years old

A Photoshop-created image of how the Kataigidodon venetus might look like, illustrated by Ben Kligman, a Ph.D. Geological Science student and student Hannah R. Kligman. Credit: Virginia Tech

Fossilized jaw-bone fragments of a mouse-like creature found at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona last year by Virginia, USA. The candidate was actually a newly discovered 220 million years old mammal or mammal, precursor to today̵

7;s mammal.


The discovery of this new species, Kataigidodon venetus, was published today in the journal Biological letters by lead author Ben Kligman, a PhD student in the Department of Geosciences.

“This discovery sheds light on the geography and environment during early mammal evolution,” Kligman said. “It also adds to the evidence that wet climates played an important role in the early evolution of mammals and their closest relatives. Kataigidodon lived with dinosaurs and possibly dinosaurs. dinosaurs were originally associated with Coelophysis – a small bipedal predator – and the Kataigidodon could be preyed to these early dinosaurs and other predators like crocodylomorphs, four-legged carnivores Little wolf breed is related to living crocodiles. “

Kligman added that the discovery of a fossil was part of Cynodontia, which includes mammals’ close relatives, such as the Kataigidodon, as well as real mammals, from the Trias. is an extremely rare event in North America. Prior to Kligman’s discovery, the only other clear cynodont fossil from the Late Triassic in western North America was the 1990 discovery of the brain of Adelobasileus cromptoni in Texas. Note that 220 million years ago, Arizona and Texas today are located near the equator, near the center of the Pangea supercontinent. The Kataigidodon was supposed to have lived in a lush rainforest ecosystem.

Kligman discovered while working as a seasonal paleontologist at Petrified Forest National Park in 2019. Two lower jaw fossils of Kataigidodon were found in the Upper Triassic Formation. Because only the lower jaw was detected and was quite small – half an inch, the size of an average grain of rice – Kligman only had a semi-picture of the creature’s shape, total body size about 3.5 inches, minus the tail.

Along with the jaw bone fossils, Kligman found intricate incisors, canines, and posterior canines, similar to modern mammals. Given the sharp shape of the teeth and small body size, it can be eaten on an insect diet, added Kligman. (Why are fossils often found, even among small specimens? According to Kligman, this fossil is “biased” towards preserving only the largest and most solid bones in a skeleton. other bones smaller or more fragile – ribs, arms, feet – disappeared.)

Kligman did field work, sample preparation, CT scan, conceptualization, study design, and manuscript drafting. He added that he and his colleagues only discovered fossils of a new species after looking at the CT scan dataset of the jaws and comparing it to other related species.

“It might look like a little mouse or a mouse. If you see it in person, you’ll think it’s a mammal,” added Kligman. Does it have feathers? Kligman and the researchers he worked with were to identify and name truly unknown creatures. “Trias cynodonts have not been found from geological environments that can conserve feathers if it is there, but non-Jurassic cynodonts from the later Jurassic period have feathers, so the scientists assume that the Triassic also has feathers. “

The name Kataigidodon venetus comes from the Greek words for thunderstorms, “kataigidos” and teeth, “odon” and the Latin word for blue, “venetus”, all of which refer to location. Discovered Thunderstorm Ridge and the blue of the rock at this site. However, Kligman did not name the creature. That task was assigned to Hans Dieter-Sues, co-author and curator of paleontology at the Smithsonian National Museum.

Other collaborators include Adam Marsh, a paleontologist at Petrified Forest National Park, who found the jaws along with Kligman and Christian Sidor, associate professor at the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. The research was funded by the Petrified Forest Museum Association, Friends Petrified Forest National Park, and the Virginia Department of Geoscience and Technology.

“This study supports the idea that what we collect determines what we can say,” said Michelle Stocker, Kligman’s assistant professor of geological sciences and PhD advisor. “Our hypotheses and interpretations of past life on Earth depend on the actual fossil materials we have and if our image searches for fossil search only focusing on large-bodied animals, we will miss out on these important small specimens that are key to understanding the diversity of many groups. “

With the Kataigidodon just another second obvious cynodont fossil from Late Triassic found in western North America, is there a lot of new species waiting to be found?

Probably. “We have preliminary evidence that there are more cynodonts in the same site as Kataigidodon, but we hope to find better fossils of them,” he added.


The researchers discovered fossils of new species in Arizona


More information:
A new non-mammal eucynodont from the Chinle Formation (Trias: Norian), and effects on record of early Mesozoic equatorial cynodont, Biological letter (Year 2020). royalsocietypublishing.org/doi… .1098 / rsbl.2020.0631

Provided by Virginia Tech

Quote: New ancient cynodont, 220 million years old, discovered (2020, November 3) retrieved November 3, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-species-ancient -cynodont-million-years.html

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