Thursday, November 06, 2014

Vintana sertichi, Largest Mammal From the Late Cretaceous

First cranial remains of a gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism. 2013. Krause, D. et al. Nature

Vintana had a skull is almost five inches (125 mm) long - double the size of other mammals Gondwana - & had a mass about 20 lbs. (9 kg).

Vintana's massive chewing muscles moved the jaw upward and backward and likely produced higher bite forces than living rodents of similar body size. Based on characteristics of its jaws and teeth and analyses by Dumont and others, the authors believe it ate a diet of roots, seeds or nut-like fruits.

Vintana belongs to a group of early mammals known as gondwanatherians, until now known only from isolated teeth and a few jaw fragments. The well-preserved skull allows the first clear insight into the life habits and relationships of gondwanatherians. PR