Meet Vintana, the second-largest mammal that lived with the dinosaurs

first_imgScientists have unearthed the fossilized skull of the second-largest mammal alive during the age of the dinosaurs. The creature lived between 66 million and 72 million years ago and belonged to a group of mammals known as gondwanatherians, which roamed Gondwana, a landmass that, starting about 180 million years ago, broke apart into South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, and India. Previously, researchers knew about gondwanatherians only from teeth and bits of jawbones. But in a study published online today in Nature, a team describes a complete skull of a new species from the group. The 12.4-centimeter-long cranium was unexpectedly recovered from a block of sandstone full of fish fossils excavated in Madagascar. Based on the length of the fossil, the creature (depicted at left and center of artist’s representation) probably weighed about 9 kilograms, likely making it the largest mammal of its time. Placed in the new genus Vintana (the Malagasy word for “luck”), the plant-eating beast had ever-growing, rodentlike front teeth, molars whose grinding surfaces were tilted slightly outward, and a bite force about twice that of modern rodents of a similar size. Surprisingly, the nose, palate, and rear portion of the skull contain bones long presumed by paleontologists to have been lost before mammals evolved, the researchers note. A CT scan of the braincase suggests that about 14% of Vintana’s brain was devoted to interpreting odors, so the creature apparently had a keen sense of smell. Its relatively large eyes, as well as certain features in the creature’s inner ear, suggest the creature was agile and fast—the better for this small plant eater to dodge dinosaurs in search of tasty morsels.last_img read more

Neanderthals could have been longdistance killers

first_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Neanderthals could have been long-distance killers By Lizzie WadeJan. 25, 2019 , 5:00 AM Neanderthals were dangerous—even at a distance. A new study suggests they might have been able to nail prey with their pointy spears from up to 20 meters away.Scientists know our archaic cousins stabbed prey at close range. But past experiments suggested Neanderthal-style spears—about 2 meters long and probably weighing a bit less than a kilogram—were too heavy to throw with the force and accuracy required for hunting. Those experiments relied on humans who were often first-time spear throwers, however.So in the new study, researchers recruited the next best thing to experienced Neanderthal spear hunters: trained javelin throwers, who hurled replicas of a 300,000-year-old Neanderthal spear at hay bales from various distances. It wasn’t an easy task: The athletes hit the target only 25% of the time when it was 10 meters away. But they achieved the same 25% accuracy at 15 meters, and even managed to hit the target 17% of the time at 20 meters—double the range at which scientists thought a hand-thrown spear could be useful for hunting, the team reports today in Scientific Reports. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) What’s more, video measurements show the hand-thrown spears carried enough energy and momentum to penetrate an animal’s flesh, the researchers say. This means Neanderthals might not have been limited to stabbing and could have used a variety of hunting strategies—just like modern humans did. OrdinaryJoe/shutterstock.com last_img read more