Thursday, January 12, 2006

Furry oddity found in Asia

Extinct Species of "Mosaic" Mammal Found in China
James Owenfor National Geographic News
January 11, 2006

Illustration courtesy Mark A. Klingler/CMNH

"Scientists in China
(map) have discovered a fossilized small, furry animal that walked like a platypus but looked like a shrew. The unusual find provides important new clues to the evolution of early mammals, the researchers say.

Found in the province of Liaoning in northeast China, the well-preserved fossil shows a previously unknown species of insect-eating mammal that lived alongside dinosaurs some 125 million years ago.

photo courtesy Zhe-Xi Luo

Named Akidolestes, the extinct animal had jaws, teeth, and forelimbs that identify it as a close relative of modern placental and marsupial mammals. Placental mammals give birth to fully developed young, while marsupials bear premature young that continue to develop outside the mother's body."

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