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Researchers: Forerunners of mammals were tree gliders

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160 mya gliding mammal/Zhe-Xi Luo, UChicago

From ScienceDaily:

Two 160 million-year-old mammal fossils discovered in China show that the forerunners of mammals in the Jurassic Period evolved to glide and live in trees. With long limbs, long hand and foot fingers, and wing-like membranes for tree-to-tree gliding, Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomylos are the oldest known gliders in the long history of early mammals.

The new discoveries suggest that the volant, or flying, way of life evolved among mammalian ancestors 100 million years earlier than the first modern mammal fliers. The fossils are described in two papers published this week in Nature by an international team of scientists from the University of Chicago and Beijing Museum of Natural History.

“These Jurassic mammals are truly ‘the first in glide,'” said Zhe-Xi Luo, PhD, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and an author on both papers. “In a way, they got the first wings among all mammals.”

“With every new mammal fossil from the Age of Dinosaurs, we continue to be surprised by how diverse mammalian forerunners were in both feeding and locomotor adaptations. The groundwork for mammals’ successful diversification today appears to have been laid long ago,” he said. Paper. (paywall) – Qing-Jin Meng, David M. Grossnickle, Di Liu, Yu-Guang Zhang, April I. Neander, Qiang Ji, Zhe-Xi Luo. New gliding mammaliaforms from the Jurassic. Nature, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature23476 More.

But who predicted that? There are probably laws that govern history but they are very general. Evolution is a history with many surprises, which is why dogmatism and didacticism are met with resistance among free people.

See also: Tales of the Tone Deaf, featuring dim profs writing in dozy journals about why people doubt Science and how to fix them.


What the fossils told us in their own words

So it's a flying squirrel. 160 million years later they are still flying squirrels. Lots of evolution happening there ";^) Latemarch

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