Sunday, July 5, 2020

Rare Fossil Shines Light on Early Mammals

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Kurt Broz
THE Kurt Broz is not just a personality for Nerdbot, but he's also the editor-in-chief and a real live scientist! Born on the snowy shores of Lake Erie in good ol' Cleveland, Ohio, Kurt Broz has been there and back again, now residing in sunny Southern California. You can find THE Kurt Broz in cosplay, buying comics, hiking, and even writing for Nerdbot and WLFK Productions. He may be a child of the 80's but he is certainly a man of the world.

Coral Bluffs is a beautiful natural area in Colorado. It’s home to amazing birds, cool plants, awesome lizards… and a really rare fossil. Coral Bluffs was once a lush tropical landscape, home to palms and dinosaurs. Then they all went extinct…

Image: Coral Bluffs, Colorado.

Now a find being called “unprecedented” is shining a light on our earliest mammal ancestors to crawl out from under the dinosaurs. A Loxolophus skull shows one of the first mammals to start radiating into all the amazing mammals we know and love today, like me or a dog or a horse.

Image: The skull uncovered in Coral Bluffs.

Dr. Tyler Lyson and Dr. Ian Miller of the Denver Museum of Nature & Sciences lead the team that made the amazing fossil find. The find was important enough to be published in Science magazine and to end up on a PBS special, The Rise of Mammals. That’s fairly impressive for a little mammal that was around some 300,000 years after the dinosaurs.

Image: A different early mammal, Chriacus. From Paleocene-Mammals.

According to a press release:

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“Thanks to the expertise, vision and grit of the scientific team, we are gaining a clearer understanding of how our modern world of mammals arose from the ashes of the dinosaurs,” said George Sparks, the Museum’s President and CEO. “We hope that this story inspires people – especially future generations – to follow their curiosity and contemplate the big questions our world presents to us.”

What’s the next impressive fossil find going to be? Tons of fossils have been found at Coral Bluffs and elsewhere, and ton are left to be found. Piecing together the history of the natural world is the bees knees… Uh, I mean the early placental mammals knees.

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Know of any great recent scientific finds? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!

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