Scientists Discover Bizarre Mammal Fossil From The Time Of Dinosaurs

Recently, researchers have managed to uncover the fossil of an early shrew-like mammal that lived some 66 million years ago on Madagascar, alongside the dinosaurs. Per the study, the discovery of the animal is an important clue in understanding how animals evolved on islands.

Research Team Discovers “Crazy Beast” Mammal

Small and badger-like in appearance, Adalatherium hui wandered the forests and plains of ancient Madagascar for millions of years, avoiding the glare of giant predators like snakes and crocodiles, even dinosaurs.

Now, A. hui has finally been discovered by an international team of researchers led by a Denver paleontologist that managed to dug up its bones, and what they found was bizarre to say the least. Named Adalatherium (which means crazy beast in two languages), the fossil they found is reportedly the largest mammal skeleton found in the Southern Hemisphere for that time period.

"Adalatherium is just one piece, but an important piece, in a very large puzzle on early mammalian evolution in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, most of the pieces are still missing," David Krause, senior curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, said.

The team believes that the creature either walked or wobbled and is a juvenile that weighed at around seven pounds. It was also very weird.

"Knowing what we know about the skeletal anatomy of all living and extinct mammals, it is difficult to imagine that a mammal like Adalatherium could have evolved; it bends and even breaks a lot of rules," Krause said.

This is because, for one thing, A. hui had more holes on its face than any mammal and have strangely-structured teeth. Its backbone also had more vertebrate than any mammal from that era and had unusually placed front and back legs since they don’t match.

"Adalatherium is the oddest of oddballs. Trying to figure out how it moved is nearly impossible because, for instance, its front end is telling us a different story than its back end," Simone Hoffmann, study co-author and assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology's department of anthropology, said.

shrew-1339117_960_720 A. hui closely resembled the modern-day shrew, although it had mismatched legs and was weird all throughout. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)