Navigation Links
Not the end of the world: Why Earth's greatest mass extinction was the making of modern mammals

The first mammals arose in the Triassic period, over 225 million years ago. These early furballs include small shrew-like animals such as Morganucodon from England, Megazostrodon from South Africa, and Bienotherium from China.

They had differentiated teeth (incisors, canines, molars) and large brains and were probably warm-blooded and covered in fur all characteristics that make them stand apart from their reptile ancestors, and which contribute to their huge success today.

However, new research from the University of Lincoln, the National Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and the University of Bristol suggests that this array of unique features arose step-wise over a long span of time, and that the first mammals may have arisen as a result of the end-Permian mass extinction which wiped out 90 per cent of marine organisms and 70 per cent of terrestrial species.

Dr Marcello Ruta of the University of Lincoln, lead author of the study, said: "Mass extinctions are seen as entirely negative. However, in this case, cynodont therapsids, which included a very small number of species before the extinction, really took off afterwards and was able to adapt to fill many very different niches in the Triassic from carnivores to herbivores."

Co-author Dr Jennifer Botha-Brink of the National Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa said: "During the Triassic, the cynodonts split into two groups, the cynognathians and the probainognathians. The first were mainly plant-eaters, the second mainly flesh-eaters, and the two groups seemed to rise and fall at random, first one expanding, and then the other. In the end, the probainognathians became the most diverse and most varied in adaptations, and they gave rise to the first mammals some 25 million years after the mass extinction."

Co-author Professor Michael Benton of the University of Bristol said: "We saw that when a major group, such as cynodonts, diversifies it is the body shape or range of adaptations that expands first. The diversity, or number of species, rises after all the morphologies available to the group have been tried out."

The researchers concluded that cynodont diversity rose steadily during the recovery of life following the mass extinction with their range of form rising rapidly at first before hitting a plateau. This suggests there is no particular difference in morphological diversity between the very first mammals and their immediate cynodont predecessors.


Contact: Hannah Johnson
University of Bristol

Related biology news :

1. Water resources management and policy in a changing world: Where do we go from here?
2. Entering an Unseen World: A Founding Laboratory and Origins of Modern Cell Biology 1910-1974
3. Research unearths new dinosaur species
4. Geosphere features top geoscience technology, including LiDAR, EarthScope, CHIRP, ALSM, and IODP
5. Chapman University unearths data in animal habitat selection that counters current convention
6. WHOI researchers, collaborators receive $1.4 million grant to study life in oceans greatest depths
7. Pollen can protect mahogany from extinction
8. Global effort launched to save turtles from extinction
9. First mass extinction linked to marine anoxia
10. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
11. 24 new species of lizards discovered on Caribbean islands are close to extinction
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... solutions, today announced broader entry into the automotive market ... that match the pace of consumer electronics human interface ... sensors are ideal for the automotive industry and will ... Europe , Japan ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... LA JOLLA, Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... released a new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: ... how well the Department of Health and Human Services ... was issued in 2010. --> ... advances, but it also has the potential to pose ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... October 29, 2015 NXTD ... company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover and ... Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this holiday ... or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 The Global Genomics ... professional and in-depth study on the current state ... ) , The report ... definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The ... markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... in New York on Wednesday, December 2 ... Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... New York , November 24, 2015 ... to a recent market research report released by Transparency ... projected to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% during ... "Non-invasive Prenatal Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, ... estimates the global non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach ...
Breaking Biology Technology: