And while it may be popular today as a pet, millions of years ago it was like a Terminator–not afraid of freezing temperatures and months-long darkness. The findings in this case are the work of scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder, who provided the information gathered in Journal of Systematic Paleontology.
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Their research was conducted in northern Alaska, where they were able to locate the fossilized remains of a small mammal. This animal was most likely able to survive in the extremely difficult conditions that prevailed in this region about 73 million years ago. The authors of the find gave a name to the previously unknown species secomys micros.
A rodent of a hitherto unknown species inhabited the Earth at a time when it was dominated by dinosaurs
An inconspicuous individual, weighing about 11 grams, belonged to an extinct family Gypsonictopidae. According to scientists, this animal could resemble modern shrews, although it was more adapted to existence in extremely hostile conditions. Due to the different location of Alaska (which was much further north in the age of the dinosaurs), local temperatures dropped below zero, and when it got dark, they could last up to 4 months.
Of course, arrangements for daily work S. micro It’s mostly speculative, but still gives you an idea of just how difficult these genres can be. According to the research team, these miniature mammals did not hibernate, but remained active, searching for food in the form of insects and other small animals.
As one of the authors, Patrick Druckenmiller, explains, 73 million years ago Alaska was an arctic jungle filled with dinosaurs, small mammals, and birds. The species that could not survive there migrated closer to the equator, while the remaining species were well adapted to a climate characterized by low temperatures, limited access to sunlight and, most likely, frequent snowfall.
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Skeletal fragments of fossilized rodents have been extracted from sediments along the banks of the Colville River. The arena for paleontologists’ activities was near the Beaufort Sea, or more precisely, the areas of the Princes Creek Formation. The research was particularly difficult due to the fact that it was conducted in hostile conditions and its authors had to rely on scant evidence, namely a few teeth and jaw fragments. Their efforts were somewhat like gold prospecting, in that they had to pick out soil, then wash it and observe it under a microscope for interesting things, such as fossilized bones. The end result can be compared, at least from the point of view of science, to finding a gold nugget.
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