Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient meat-loving predators survived for 35 million years

Date:
December 6, 2011
Source:
Springer
Summary:
A species of ancient predator with saw-like teeth, sleek bodies and a voracious appetite for meat survived a major extinction at a time when the distant relatives of mammals ruled the earth.

Top: Varanodon. Bottom: Aerosaurus.
Credit: Diane Scott

A species of ancient predator with saw-like teeth, sleek bodies and a voracious appetite for meat survived a major extinction at a time when the distant relatives of mammals ruled Earth.

A detailed description of a fossil that scientists identify as a varanopid "pelycosaur" is published in the December issue of Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature. Professors Sean Modesto from Cape Breton University, and Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto Mississauga, provide evidence that a group of ancient, agile predators called varanopids survived for more than 35 million years, and co-existed with more advanced animals.

Modesto and the team performed a detailed examination of the partial skull and jaw of the youngest known primitive mammal-like animal, which they believe lived over 260 million years ago in the Permian Period. The fossils are from rocks forming the Pristerognathus Assemblage Zone of the Beaufort Group in South Africa.

"These animals were the most agile predators of their time, sleek-looking when compared to their contemporaries," says Reisz. "They seem to have survived a major change in the terrestrial fauna that occurred during the Middle Permian, a poorly understood extinction event in the history of life on land."

According to Modesto, "These ancient animals really looked like modern goannas or monitor lizards, but are actually more closely related to mammals."

The fossil revealed teeth that are strongly flattened, curved towards the throat and with finely serrated cutting edges typical of hypercarnivores -- animals with a diet that consists of more than 70 percent meat.

Modesto and his colleagues concluded that these varanopids had a longer co-existence with animals that eventually evolved into mammals than previously believed. They suggest that the dental and skeletal design of varanopids, reminiscent of the Komodo dragon of today, may have contributed to their long survival and their success.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sean P. Modesto, Roger M. H. Smith, Nicolαs E. Campione, Robert R. Reisz. The last 'pelycosaur': a varanopid synapsid from the Pristerognathus Assemblage Zone, Middle Permian of South Africa. Naturwissenschaften, 2011; 98 (12): 1027 DOI: 10.1007/s00114-011-0856-2

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Ancient meat-loving predators survived for 35 million years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206101456.htm>.
Springer. (2011, December 6). Ancient meat-loving predators survived for 35 million years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206101456.htm
Springer. "Ancient meat-loving predators survived for 35 million years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206101456.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — After testing DNA from a shawl found near one of Jack the Ripper's victims, a scientist said he'd identified the killer. New reports refute the claim. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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