While most of its relatives perished with the dinosaurs, a molelike mammal nicknamed the "grave robber" survived the event that killed the dinosaurs, new research finds. Necrolestes patagonensis, whose name translates in part to "grave robber," was among the mammals that lived through thedinosaur mass extinction. The new study finds that the creature lived 45 million years longer than paleontologists realized.
Necrolestes was first discovered in fossil form in the Patagonia region of South America in 1891, but little was known about the animal, study researcher John Wible, a mammalogist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said in a statement. Necrolestes' subterranean lifestyle may explain its lucky fate, the researchers reported Monday (Nov. 19) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"There's no other mammal in the Tertiary of South America that even approaches its ability to dig, tunnel, and live in the ground," Wible said. "It must have been on the edges, in an ecological niche that allowed it to survive."