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Oddest couple ever found
Date:6/21/2013

urled-up position that show even tiny bones of the skeleton preserved. It's as if they were peacefully resting in shelters at the time of death".

The shelters prevented disturbance of the skeletal remains from scavengers and weathering. "We also think it might reflect a state of torpor called aestivation in response to aridity and absence of food resources," Abdala says.

Piecing all the clues together, the team finally elucidated the enigmatic association, concluding that "the mammal-like reptile, Thrinaxodon, was most probably aestivating in its burrow, a key adaptation response together with a burrowing behavior which enabled our distant ancestors to survive the most dramatic mass extinction event. This state of torpor explains why the amphibian was not chased out of the burrow," says Rubidge.

Both animals were finally entrapped in the burrow by a sudden flood and preserved together in the sediments for 250 million years.

Tafforeau says: "Thanks to the unique possibilities for high quality imaging of fossils developed during the last decade at the ESRF, these unique specimens remain untouched, protected by their mineral matrix. Who knows what kind of information we'll be able to obtain from them in the future and which would have been completely lost if the specimen had been prepared out of its burrow cast?"


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Contact: Erna van Wyk
erna.vanwyk@wits.ac.za
27-011-717-4023
University of the Witwatersrand
Source:Eurekalert

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