Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Give Name To Ancient Mystery Creature

Date:
October 23, 2006
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
For the first time, researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, have been able to put a name and a description to an ancient mammal that still defies classification.

For the first time, researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have been able to put a name and a description to an ancient mammal that still defies classification.

The findings, published recently in the Journal of Paleontology provide the first and only comprehensive account of the creature, named Horolodectes sunae, for the unusual shape of the crowns of the teeth. Horolodectes lived about 60 million years ago, soon after the dinosaurs went extinct, in a period known for its rapid diversification of small mammals. Based on careful examination of tooth and jaw fragments that have been unearthed over the past 30 years, the University of Alberta researchers have now determined Horolodectes was a small fur-bearing animal that measured 10 centimetres in length and due to its powerful jaws, likely had a strong bite.

Most confounding are the animal's teeth, which resemble in superficial ways, those of primitive relatives of ungulates, the group of mammals which includes horses and cows. But despite that link to ungulates, which are traditionally herbivores, Horolodectes was thought to have dined on small insects and grubs. "It had sharp crests on the teeth which formed blades, indicating it was likely carnivorous," said Craig Scott, a PhD candidate and lead author of the study. Horolodectes means 'hourglass biter', in reference to the creature's peculiar hourglass-shaped pre-molars, the teeth between the canine and the molars. The very tall, sharp pre-molars are unlike any others so far discovered in the mammal world. "There is nothing else with teeth quite like it," Craig said.

"In an area of North America that's been fairly well studied, it's unusual to have a critter like this pop up. It's not known anywhere else, just in Alberta. And it's quite distinct. There's no mistaking it," Scott said.

The first dental specimens of the creature were unearthed by University of Alberta paleontologists 30 years ago from the banks of the Blindman River in Alberta, Canada. About 10 years ago, more teeth were discovered at a dig site near Drayton Valley and on the banks of the Blindman. But the creature mystified the researchers, who could not positively identify it, and exactly where it fits into the evolutionary ladder is still unknown. Horolodectes remains an enigma to this day.

"It's just too bizarre to place in any group that we've known about previously," said Scott. "It's an open question until we can find more of it. We have no information from a skull or other parts of the body."

This study was supported in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Researchers Give Name To Ancient Mystery Creature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018094016.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2006, October 23). Researchers Give Name To Ancient Mystery Creature. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018094016.htm
University of Alberta. "Researchers Give Name To Ancient Mystery Creature." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018094016.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

AFP (July 29, 2014) London's "Gherkin" office tower, one of the landmarks on the British capital's skyline, went on sale for about 650 million ($1.1 billion, 820 million euros) on Tuesday after being placed into receivership. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
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
Tourists Disappointed to Find Rome Attractions Under Restoration

Tourists Disappointed to Find Rome Attractions Under Restoration

AFP (July 26, 2014) Tourists visiting Italy at the peak of the summer season are disappointed to find some of Rome's most famous attractions being restored and offering limited access. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
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