This is a fossilized sample of one “crazy monster” lived in Madagascar 66 million years ago. It was named by scientists Adalatherium hui, the first and only animal in this genus living at the same time as the dinosaurs.
The fossil specimen found in 1999, in the Mahajanga basin northwest of Madagascar, challenged a famous assumption in paleontology. Previous researchers have suggested that most mammals living with dinosaurs should be as small as mice.
But, me “crazy monster“This has grown to a size of up to 3kg, and it has not even reached full adult size. This finding has been.”bend and even break many rules“, says researcher David Krause from the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.
The adalatherium hui is completely different from what we have seen before.
To learn about this unique species, we have to go back 66 million years ago, when the last dinosaurs were walking on Gondwana before becoming extinct.
Gondwana was an ancient supercontinent south of the ancient hemisphere, which later split into India and Africa, with Madagascar being an isolated island separated from there. All animals that once lived on the Gondwana supercontinent are called scientists gondwanatherian.
The fossils of these mammals exist to date very fragile, often only fragments of teeth, jaw and skull. They are also very rare compared to dinosaur fossils and reptiles and amphibians such as frogs and crocodiles. Of the more than 20,000 fossils found, only 12 are fossils of mammals.
Most mammals are very small. They’re just as small as mice now, weighing less than a 100 gram deck of cards. Compared to these animals, the Adalatherium hui was a giant in the mammalian world on Gondwana and Madagascar during the dinosaur era.
Paleontologists found its nearly intact skeleton from a fault in northwestern Madagascar in 1999. It retained nearly all bone structures from the muzzle to the tip of the tail, with both Small sesame bones attached to tendons.
Its ribs contain fossilized soft tissue, suggesting the animal was still alive before it was buried in the mud. At first, no one thought it could be a mammal.
But the meticulous analysis done over 10 years later revealed the truth. The surgery showed that the Adalatherium hui was a huge animal and it was very strange.
The ears of Echidna, like the echidna lay eggs, are still alive in Australia. Their forelegs are very close to each other, like kitten’s feet. While, the two limb back to imitate the shape of a person squatting.
It has developed incisors. And the pointed teeth are like coming from an alien creature. Researchers surmise this unusual shape, the hui Adalatherium is a plant-eating animal.
The study authors said that the back muscles of this animal are strong. It may have come bent back. And especially, the animal’s skull does not look like it, it has a mysterious hole in the muzzle, which has never been reported in any study.
In terms of behavior, Adalatherium hui seems to resemble a badger. He probably lived inside the cave. The scientists discovered traces of dense nerves in the animal’s muzzle, making it an extremely sensitive area – a trait often found in burrowing animals.
And before mammals captured Earth, perhaps all of them had to flee from the giant dinosaurs – not to mention other predators. Therefore, it is not surprising that a large fat animal like the Adalatherium hui must burrow to hide.
Adalatherium hui is the best preserved fossil specimen from Gondwana. And with this discovery, it fills a void of mammal evolution that occurred during the dinosaur period.
The name “Adalatherium“translated from Malagasy and Greek and means”crazy beast “, and “hui“is named after the late Chinese mammal scientist Yaoming Hu, who discovered the fossils.
Previously, scientists have discovered many ancient mammals living in the Northern Hemisphere, especially China. However, fossils south of the equator are rare.
The gigantic size of the Adalatherium hui may have been explained by the Gondwana tectonic plates. According to geological studies, when the supercontinent Gondwana split into India and Africa, it left Madagascar isolated as an island in the middle of 88 million years ago.
This isolation has led the creatures on this island to form a separate and novel evolutionary branch. Evidence, at least in modern frogs and lizards, suggests that Madagascar can accumulate new species that evolve faster than mainland habitats.
On the island, animals can adapt to new food sources. Small animals grow bigger. Large animals shrink.
The ancient animals in Madagascar are very peculiar. These include giant frogs with strong teeth that can chew even baby dinosaurs or upturned crocodiles to eat plants. Primate like lemurs in Madagascar can evolve into 100 different species. Moths here have a wide wingspan and a longer tongue so they can smoke nectar.
About 99% of all vertebrates in Madagascar are found only on the island but not on continents. The adalatherium hui is one of those strange animals. And although it went extinct with the dinosaurs after a mysterious event 66 million years ago, the species “crazy monster“This is still a great testament to the strangeness of Madagascar. Everything on this island has ever been bizarre.
Refer Nytimes, BBC