(One rather hopes so. 😉 )
Anyway, LiveScience reports:
A shrewlike creature in Madagascar that can hibernate for at least nine months of the year without waking may help reveal how mammals survived the cataclysm that ended the age of dinosaurs, researchers suggest.
The researchers created a virtual model, the “Shrëwdinger,” which they claim,
“We have all these placentals alive today, from elephants to shrews, from things that fly to things that swim,” Spaulding said. “What could the common ancestor of these things that are so different possibly look like?”
The scientists then worked with an artist to illustrate this ancestor. In addition to a furry tail, the researchers suggest the four-legged creature likely ate insects, weighed from 6 grams (about the weight of some shrews) up to 245 grams — less than half a pound — and was more adapted for general scampering than built for more specialized forms of movement, such as swinging from trees. Also, its cerebral cortex — the part of the brain linked to higher mental processes — was probably convoluted, folds linked with greater brain activity, the researchers found.
There is no question that the researchers have analyzed a great deal of data, combining genetic and fossil data.
But something feels not quite right about creating a hypothetical (virtual) ancestor. That’s what it is; everyone acknowledges that the Shrëwdinger was invented by the researchers and never actually existed. The 2013 article on the invention is nonetheless headlined, “Meet Your Mama: First Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Revealed.”
Of course, it is possible that, in these times, the distinction between science, art, and science fiction is becoming at best superfluous, and at worst burdensome to maintain.
Incidentally, they argue that the original ancestor of placental mammals developed about 200,000 to 400,000 years after the extinction, 36 million years later than the genetic data suggest. If so, fast work. Probabilities without new information?
Note: Could the hibernators sleep that long? Despite that force? We are talking about a probable asteroid hit, not a string of bad summers.
Follow UD News at Twitter!