Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Platypus Family Older Than Previously Thought

Paleontologists have discovered the Australian platypus is up to 40 million years older than originally thought, making it the world's oldest known family of mammals.

New research conducted on the fossil jaws of an ancient platypus, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the mammals were around at the time of the dinosaurs -- as long as 120 million years ago.

The fossils were unearthed at the seaside town of Inverloch in Victoria state almost a decade ago, but it was only recently that high resolution scans of the specimens were taken, Museum Victoria's head of sciences John Long told Kyodo News.

"This new information has shown that the inside of the jaw has this massively big canal, which is something that you only get in a modern platypus," Long said.

This is another Rich and Vickers-Rich critter from Oz.

I went looking for a copy on PNAS but couldn't find it. Better luck hunting yourselves.

PS the press article has a particularly bad name...sheesh.


Zach said...

Okay, now I have a question: are platypuses essentially unchanged since the dinosaur days? Were the monotrames ever diverse beyond platypuses and echidnas? Did I just mispell "monotrames?" For that matter, "mispell" doesn't look right, either.

It's been a long day.

Anonymous said...