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:11/20/2015)... Connecticut , November 20, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... CEO, Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on ... interview will air on this weekend on Bloomberg ... Latin America . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... VIEW, Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015  Based ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 ... Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award ... product line catering to the needs of the market ... the product line meets and expands on customer base ...
(Date:11/19/2015)...  Although some 350 companies are actively involved in ... companies, according to Kalorama Information. These include Roche Diagnostics, Hologic, ... share of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular testing market, according ... Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... by one company and only a handful of companies ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the ... (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing to low-cost ... but higher volume share for the region in ... however, margins in the CRO industry will improve. ... ( ), finds that the market ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... HILLS, N.J. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... as the recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, ... golf through his or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ... at the following conference, and invited investors to participate ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York on ... Dr. Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. ... communication and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
Breaking Biology Technology: