Skip to comments.University of Florida research provides new understanding of bizarre extinct mammal
Posted on 10/27/2010 4:45:47 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
University of Florida researchers presenting new fossil evidence of an exceptionally well-preserved 55-million-year-old North American mammal have found it shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans.The study published today in the online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, describes the cranial anatomy of the extinct mammal, Labidolemur kayi.
High resolution CT scans of the specimens allowed researchers to study minute details in the skull, including bone structures smaller than one-tenth of a millimeter. Similarities in bone features with other mammals show L. kayi's living relatives are rodents, rabbits, flying lemurs, tree shrews and primates.
Researchers said the new information will aide future studies to better understand the origin of primates.
"The specimens are among the only skulls of apatemyids known that aren't squashed completely flat," said study co-author Jonathan Bloch, an associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "They're preserved in three dimensions, which allows us to look at the morphology of the bones in a way that we never could before...
The skeletons analyzed in the publication were recovered from freshwater limestone in the Bighorn Basin by co-author Peter Houde of New Mexico State University. Located just east of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the site is known as one of the best in the world for studying the evolution of mammals during the 10 million years following the extinction of the dinosaurs, Bloch said.
(Excerpt) Read more at eurekalert.org ...
This well-preserved fossil a 55-million-year-old extinct mammal, Labidolemur kayi, was recovered from freshwater limestone in the Bighorn Basin near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The specimen helped University of Florida scientists write a comprehensive analysis of L. kayi's cranial anatomy, scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. [Kristen Grace]
University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch examines the full skeleton of Labidolemur kayi, a 55-million-year-old extinct mammal with odd ecological adaptations. Reddish-brown epoxy was used during the preparation process to hold the skeleton together. The UF study of L. kayi's cranial anatomy is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Researchers determined L. kayi shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans. [Kristen Grace]
University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch holds two cranial fragments of the extinct mammal L. kayi to show how the complete skull would have looked, similar to the skull of the present-day Pen-tailed Tree Shrew from Southeast Asia, right. Unlike the cast of an extinct apatemyid in the background, the specimens used in the UF study scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society are preserved in three dimensions. Researchers determined L. kayi shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans. [Kristen Grace]
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Isn’t this just high tech phrenology? Shouldn’t they use DNA to trace these ancestral families?
Not phrenology, morphology. Morphology rooools. There’s no DNA in stuff this old *most of the time*. You’ve no doubt seen the T-Rex hemaglobin stories, FR has had a lot of duplicate topics for that matter. :’)
The way DNA is sometimes used to find common ancestry is to actually find very similar genes (those are three-basepair groups on a DNA strand, in this case a chromosome) in two different living samples, and try to estimate the length of time since the common source was identical and living.
Speaking of suckers, that one looks like Chupacabra! Aiiiiiieee!
Your work is much appreciated...
They must have discovered their football team.
Damn! Thought this was a story about liberal democrats.
Long before DNA technologies were developed, animals were classified on the basis of anatomical features. DNA in such old specimens is sometimes non-existent, but the old methods of classification are still valid.
Bacon from my camp site
Certainly our offense is extinct.
I was just making fun of morphology. Haven’t there been errors made in classifications by morphology? Pandas, hyenas...
There seems to be great clarity in general classifications - mammal, reptile, fish, vertebrates/invertebrates - but doesn’t it begin to be more art than science at some level?
Doesn’t it eventually devolve to an art, especially at transitions?
All science is an art. The idea that science is clear-cut and there are always definitive answers is mostly propaganda meant for mass consumption. In the real world, it’s not so simple.
Also, there are no “transitions.” There is a continuum, where specimens taken at various intervals might be different, but there is no point at which one can say “it was this; now it’s that.”
Art is subjective, no? And to be a continuum there can’t be gaps or else it isn’t continuous, no?
Continuum - anything that goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes
I am not aware that the fossil record is that complete and clear.