Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Strange South American Fossil Mammals Found In Madagascar And India

Date:
December 4, 1997
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A strange group of fossil mammals, heretofore only known in South America, has been discovered on the island of Madagascar and in India. The unexpected discoveries were announced in this week's issue of the journal Nature by an international team of researchers.

A strange group of fossil mammals, heretofore only known in South America, has been discovered on the island of Madagascar and in India. The unexpected discoveries were announced in this week's issue of the journal Nature by an international team of researchers. The team was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by paleontologist David Krause of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The 65-70 million year old mammals, dating from the Late Cretaceous period, were unrelated to any groups living today and are known as gondwanatheres. The discovery of their highly distinctive teeth in such disparate places as South America, Madagascar and India has fundamental implications for plate tectonics, the theory that landmasses move slowly over the face of the earth and were in different places in the past than they are today.

Ironically, though the group of mammals was previously known only to be from Argentina, it was named Gondwanatheria after the supercontinent of Gondwana, which once included all of the landmasses of the southern hemisphere.

"These are major discoveries that go far beyond their obvious significance to paleontologists," says Chris Maples, program director in NSF's division of earth sciences, which funded Krause's work. "Krause and his large-scale, multi-investigator team have provided an excellent example of the contributions that paleontology can make to many areas of geoscience, including tectonic plate positions in Earth's past."

Krause says, "Finding representatives of gondwanatheres on these three now widely separated landmasses suggests to us that they were connected in the Late Cretaceous. A recently proposed geophysical model shows that India and Madagascar were attached to eastern Antarctica well into the Cretaceous while South America was attached to the western end of Antarctica. This discovery supports that hypothesis with totally independent evidence derived from the fossil record."

Significantly, gondwanatheres have not been found in Africa, which lends credence to the research team's conclusion that Africa was relatively isolated during the 35 million years of the Late Cretaceous. "It's not just the mammal evidence that suggests that Africa was off doing its own thing; the dinosaur evidence also indicates a high degree of African endemism during this interval," adds Krause.

Krause has led large-scale NSF-funded paleontological expeditions to Madagascar for three years. Krause's team has discovered a spectacular array of well-preserved and extraordinarily complete skeletal material of crocodiles, birds, dinosaurs and other backboned animals in Madagascar. Despite finding only fragmentary remains of mammals, Krause notes that the mammal specimens "may not be all that spectacular visually, but they're extremely important. Scientific significance, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder."

NSF is an independent federal agency responsible for fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of about $3.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states, through grants to more than 2,000 universities and institutions nationwide. NSF receives more than 50,000 requests for funding annually, including at least 30,000 new proposals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Strange South American Fossil Mammals Found In Madagascar And India." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971204070938.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (1997, December 4). Strange South American Fossil Mammals Found In Madagascar And India. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971204070938.htm
National Science Foundation. "Strange South American Fossil Mammals Found In Madagascar And India." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971204070938.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins