In 2010, a group of scientists discovered a fossil of a strange (rather large) groundhog like creature living amongst the dinosaurs on Madagascar 66 million year ago. The group found a near complete skull of the creature while looking for fish fossils nearly five years ago.
Now it appears that it may have had supersensory capabilities according to a new report that was published today in Nature and may have gotten as big as 20 pounds.
Madagascar mammal fossil: Superscent and really big
“Not only does it have bizarre features, it’s bizarre in being so humongous,” says vertebrate paleontologist David Krause of Stony Brook University in the report. The skull was found by CT-scan of a 150 pound slab of sandstone when it was brought back to Krause’s lab.
Mentioning the luck of the find he said, “We had absolutely no idea it was there.” Once found and studied the scientists chose to name it Vintana sertichi. (Which combines the Malagasy word for “luck” and the name of a former graduate student of Krause.
After studying the skull, the researchers believe that it belongs to a group of relatively unknown mammals called Gondwanatherians who lived on a supercontinent called Gondwana roughly 70 million years ago.
“Gondwanatherians were completely unknown 30 years ago,” Krause says.
Gondwana is believed to have broken apart around 180 million years ago to form Africa, Australia, Antarctica, India, and Madagascar.
Until a more than a skull is found scientists will struggle to learn more about the creature. They really know very little about its life. Did it live in trees, swim, prefer the day or the night, Lay eggs
“I’m dying to find more complete remains of other Gondwanatherian mammals,” Krause says.
If more can be found out more gaps in mammal evolution may be filled.