This ‘cunning animal’ that lived with the dinosaurs was unlike other creatures


Andrey Atuchin

Scientists say they are damaged by the strange appearance of a 66-million-year-old mammal-sized opossum mammal called the Adalatherium – which translates as a “cunning beast.”

“Given what we know about the skeletal anatomy of all living and extinct mammals, it’s hard to imagine that a mammal like Adalatherium could have evolved,” said David Krause, from House Denver Museum of Nature and Science, in a press release. “It bends and even breaks many rules.”

On Friday, Krause, along with Simone Hoffmann at the New York Institute of Technology and their team, published a 234-page study on a fossil skeleton of Adalatherium found in 1999. They first announced the results of a 20-year study in the United States. April, in the journal Nature. Today’s in-depth paper features in the Memoir Paleontology Memoir Vertebrate Society Series, an annual publication that takes an in-depth look at the most important vertebra fossils.

The researchers describe the creature as having muscular hind arms such as a crocodile, powerful forelegs, rabbit’s front teeth and strange back teeth that look completely unlike any other mammal known. It also had an abnormal space between the bones at the top of its nose and more vertebra trunk than most other mammals.

The Adalatherium was a “giant” compared to mouse-sized mammals that lived with dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period (145.5 million years to 66 million years ago). He lived in Madagascar and belongs to a group of extinct mammals called gondwanatherians, first discovered in the 1980s.

In the strange appearance of the ancient animal, scientists scratch their heads. His muscular legs and large toes on the hind legs made him a powerful digger, but his front legs were less brauny, which could mean that the creature was a fast runner. .


A closer look at the skeleton of Adalatherium.

Simone Hoffmann and Kathrine Pan

Her forelimbs were slit under the body like those of most mammals, but the hind arms were more sprawling, like those of a lizard. Then there are those teeth, which suggest a mushroom but are still weird. And scientists have not yet figured out the cause of the hole in the top of the nose.

“Adalatherium is just weird,” Hoffmann said in the news. “Trying to figure out how he moved, for example, was challenging because his front end tells us a completely different story than the back end. “

Such narrative nutrition on the other hand, however, this “cunning animal” could help scientists tell a clearer story of how mammals evolved, or at least some of them.

“Adalatherium is an important piece in a huge puzzle of early mammalian evolution in the southern hemisphere,” said Hoffmann, “one in which most of the other pieces are still missing.”