Friday, November 4, 2011

Cronopio dentiacutus

Model of C. dentiacutus
I confess, I've never seen any of the Ice Age movies. But I am aware that there is a little Saber-Toothed Squirrel guy that runs around. And now, that Saber-Toothed Squirrel could be real... though it was already extinct for tens of millions of years before the Ice Age... and wasn't really a Squirrel.

For a long time there was a huge gap in the fossil record when it came to the mammals of South America. From 120 to 60 million years ago we jsut didn't really know what was going on. But not anymore! Scientists in Argentina have discovered a small, mouse sized animal that walked with the Dinosaurs and lived between 94 and 60 million years ago.

Cronopio dentiacutus had a long snout and elongated, narrow teeth for snatching insects. It also had very large eyes which suggest a nocturnal lifestyle. And though its been dubbed as a Saber-Toothed Squirrel, it's not a Squirrel at all. C. dentiacutus  belongs to the same group of mammals that eventually evolved into both placental and marsupial mammals!

Status : Extinct for around 60 million years
Location : Argentina
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Superorder : †Dryolestoidea
Genus : †Cronopio -- Species : †C. dentiacutus

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