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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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ScienceShot: Meet ‘Wrinkly Tooth,’ the Earliest Rodentlike Creature
15 August 2013 2:00 pm
Rodents are among the most successful animals on Earth, making up some 40% of all mammalian species. But long before there were rats and mice, there were equally successful mammals that looked a lot like them. These were the multituberculates, so-called because their cheek teeth featured multiple cusps, or tubercles. Reporting online today in Science, researchers reveal what they claim is the earliest known multituberculate, a nearly complete skeleton dated to 160 million years ago, from the fossil-rich Tiaojishan Formation in Northeast China. The team has named the new critter (artist’s reconstruction above) Rugosodon eurasiaticus. (Rugosodon in Latin means “wrinkly tooth,” referring to the highly wrinkled and creased surfaces of its molars, and eurasiaticus refers to the team’s conclusions that the specimen resembles somewhat younger ones found in both Europe and Asia.) It is about 17 centimeters long, the size of a rat. It also sports numerous features that explain how multituberculates, many of which ate both plants and crawly things such as worms and spiders—and which were capable of burrowing, jumping, and climbing trees—got off to such a good evolutionary start. Not only did Rugosodon have teeth that would have been very good at shearing plant material, but its ankles were also capable of rotating in wide angles, making it very agile. These features probably contributed to the more than 100-million-year-existence of multituberculates, a success story that ended only after true rodents independently arose about 60 million years ago and apparently outcompeted them to extinction.