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Fanged Furball

November 21, 2011

Paleontologists have discovered a tiny mammal from the age of the dinosaurs that sported tusks.

Transcript


BOB HIRSHON (host):

An ancient fanged furball…

I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

One of the main characters in the film “Ice Age” is Scrat, a saber-toothed squirrel. Fanged squirrels didn’

t really exist in prehistoric times. But scientists have now discovered the fossil of an animal that looks remarkably similar to the scrappy rodent. University of Louisville paleontologist Guillermo Rougier says the tiny fanged mammal lived nearly 100 million years ago in a part of South America that teemed with dinosaurs.

GULLIERMO ROUGIER (University of Louisville):

Then shape of the teeth on this new animal called cronopiois very peculiar, with a skull two very large tusks. These very large teeth are out of proportion for anything that we know, and it’s very surprising.

HIRSHON:

Rougier says the creature, which pre-dated the first rodents by more than 30 million years, probably used its fangs to grab onto and puncture insects. He adds that it has no living descendents today. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

 

 An artist’s rendering of Cronopio – (© Jorge Gonzalez, used by permission)