April 30 2020, 5:55 am
The almost complete skeleton and in a very good state of conservation of a strange mammal of 66 million years, which they have baptized as “Adalatherium” (crazy beast), has been discovered in Madagascar, according to a study published by Nature.
“Knowing what we know about the skeletal anatomy of living and extinct mammals, it’s hard to imagine” how this animal could have evolved, according to lead researcher David Krauser of the Denver Museum of Science and Nature (USA).
The remains make up the most complete skeleton yet discovered in the southern hemisphere of a Mesozoz mammal, according to a museum statement.
A realistic reconstruction from the remains could lead one to think that the Adalatherium was like a badger, but that normality is only superficial because its skeleton is “extravagant”.
The remains indicate that this “crazy beast” was unusual in size and very large for its time, since most of the mammals that lived when dinosaurs were much smaller, more or less, like a mouse.
The animal had more holes in its face than any known mammal, which served as a passage for nerves and blood vessels that reached to a very sensitive muzzle that was covered in whiskers.
In addition, it had a hole “very large in the upper part of the snout for which there is no similarity in any known mammal, alive or extinct,” the note indicates.
The special characteristics of Adalatherium can also be seen in its teeth, whose construction is “very different” from that of any known mammal; on its spine, which had more vertebrae than any Mesozoic mammal; and in the legs, where one of the bones “was strangely curved.”
The animal belongs to an extinct group of mammals called gondwanatherianos, because they are only known in the ancient supercontinent of southern Gondwana.
Before the discovery of the almost complete skeleton of Adalatherium, Gondwanatherians were known for isolated teeth and jaw fragments, with the exception of a Madagascar skull, described by Krause and his team in 2014.
The excellent state of conservation of the remains of this specimen “opens new windows” to know the appearance and way of life of the Gondwanatherians.
For Simone Hoffman of the New York Institute of Technology this animal is “the rarest of oddballs” and trying to figure out how it moved is almost a mystery.
The remains were found in rocks dating from near the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago.
The study notes that Madagascar, along with the Indian subcontinent, separated from Africa more than a hundred million years ago, and finally became isolated as an island in the Indian Ocean some 88 million years ago. EFE