Researchers have uncovered dozens of fossilized teeth in Kuwajima, Japan, and identified this as a new species of tritylodontid, an animal family that links the evolution of mammals from reptiles. The finding suggests that tritylodontids co-existed with some of the earliest mammal species for millions of years, overturning beliefs that mammals wiped out mammal-like reptiles soon after they emerged.
“Tritylodontids were herbivores with unique sets of teeth which intersect when they bite,” explains study author Hiroshige Matsuoka, based at Kyoto University. “They had pretty much the same features as mammals — for instance they were most likely warm-blooded — but taxonomically speaking they were reptiles, because in their jaws they still had a bone that in mammals is used for hearing.”
That’s the only difference between mammas and reptiles? Different use of a single bone?
Tritylodontids lived in the Jurassic era and proliferated worldwide, but were thought to have died out as herbivorous mammals took over their ecological role in the late Jurassic. “This made sense, because otherwise tritylodontids and the herbivorous mammals would have competed for the same niche,” says Matsuoka.
But according to the team’s finding, trytylodontids seem to have survived at least 30 million years longer than what paleontologists had believed. [to the Barremian–Aptian era (125-130 mya)] More. Paper. (paywall)
Ever notice how “evolution” is becoming much less of a metaphysic (cf Dawkins and Kroto, and more of a history? That greatly reduces the moral and intellectual status of the posturing around it. It becomes no different from posturing around the origins and facts of the Crimean War.
As a result, Darwinian speculation about why mammals outcompeted mammal-like reptiles quite early—speculation whose main effect is to preserve Darwinian theory itself from critical analysis—is at risk of slow death by exceptions and uncertainties.
Darwinism flourished at a time when sketchy information enabled grand claims. There is getting to be a flood of information—and that is why the sea is boiling hot.
See also: Parallel evolution in crocodile eyes Long-snouted crocodylians in South America, India evolved separately to adopt river-dwelling lifestyle, protruding eyes
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