From the Guardian:
Prehistoric rat-like mammal fossil is earliest showing fur, skin and organs
The remains, unearthed in a quarry near Cuenca in central Spain, are more than 60m years older than other fossils that record the soft tissues of prehistoric mammals.
The animal’s ear lobe, lung and liver are all fossilised, along with its furry pelt and tiny hedgehog-like spines on its lower back that likely protected it from predators. Researchers even found evidence of a fungal skin infection in the remains.
Named Spinolestes xenarthrosus, the insect-eating furball was discovered in 2011 when fossil hunters at the Autonomous University of Madrid, were prising apart thin leaves of fine limestone sediment in the Las Hoyas Quarry.
“The preservation of its soft parts is stunning,” … More.
It will be interesting to see whether these soft elements differ in any way from those extant today and if so how. And whether that fungus is still a skin pest.
See also: Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen Interestingly, there is evidence of care for young at unexpectedly early ages too:
190 million years ago: A nest site for dinosaur eggs suggests that dinosaurs kept an eye on their young. The findings “suggest that Massospondylus returned to the site repeatedly, laying their eggs in groups in the earliest-known case of ‘colonial nesting.'” (Middle Jurassic reptiles may have cared for young as well.) More.
File under: Earlier than thought. Please order some more USB sticks as well.
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