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Rescooped by Marissa from Amazing Science!

165-million-year-old proto-mammal shows that traits like hair and fur originated well before the rise of mammals

165-million-year-old proto-mammal shows that traits like hair and fur originated well before the rise of mammals | Animal Sciences |

A newly discovered fossil reveals the evolutionary adaptations of a 165-million-year-old proto-mammal, providing evidence that traits such as hair and fur originated well before the rise of the first true mammals. The biological features of this ancient mammalian relative, named Megaconus mammaliaformis, were described by scientists from the University of Chicago in the Aug 8, 2013 issue of Nature.


"We finally have a glimpse of what may be the ancestral condition of all mammals, by looking at what is preserved in Megaconus. It allows us to piece together poorly understood details of the critical transition of modern mammals from pre-mammalian ancestors," said Zhe-Xi Luo, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago.


Discovered in Inner Mongolia, China, Megaconus is one of the best-preserved fossils of the mammaliaform groups, which are long-extinct relatives to modern mammals. Dated to be around 165 million years old,Megaconus co-existed with feathered dinosaurs in the Jurassic era, nearly 100 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed Earth.


Preserved in the fossil is a clear halo of guard hairs and underfur residue, making Megaconus only the second known pre-mammalian fossil with fur. It was found with sparse hairs around its abdomen, leading the team to hypothesize that it had a naked abdomen.


On its heels, Megaconus possessed a long keratinous spur, which was possibly poisonous. Similar to spurs found on modern egg-laying mammals, such as male platypuses, the spur is evidence that this fossil was most likely a male member of its species.


"Megaconus confirms that many modern mammalian biological functions related to skin and integument had already evolved before the rise of modern mammals," said Luo, who was also part of the team that first discovered evidence of hair in pre-mammalian species in 2006 (Science, 331: 1123-1127, DOI:10.1126/science.1123026).


A terrestrial animal about the size of a large ground squirrel, Megaconuswas likely an omnivore, possessing clearly mammalian dental features and jaw hinge. Its molars had elaborate rows of cusps for chewing on plants, and some of its anterior teeth possessed large cusps that allowed it to eat insects and worms, perhaps even other small vertebrates. It had teeth with high crowns and fused roots similar to more modern, but unrelated, mammalian species such as rodents. Its high-crowned teeth also appeared to be slow growing like modern placental mammals.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Anela Leilani Kaiawe's curator insight, September 25, 2013 2:34 PM

this is a test run

Olivia Haltom's curator insight, December 6, 2013 2:44 PM

i think this is interesting because its talking anout an extinct animal from 165 million years ago.

Sydney Bolyard's curator insight, December 6, 2013 4:21 PM

This article reveals new found information stating that scientists have discovered a fossil of an animal (resembling a small squirrel), which leads to further discovery of evolution. The primary of form of evolution scientist are interested in are the adaptations of fur. Later in the article, it describes the hypothesis that scientists have formed as to what this newly discovered mammal's characteristics were likely to be. Any new discorvery of species is facinating because you figure how old the earth is and how long people have been around, and we are still finding new organisms.

Rescooped by Marissa from Empathy Circle Magazine!

Professor says science justifies compassion for animals

Professor says science justifies compassion for animals | Animal Sciences |

Dr. Marc Bekoff isn’t just a compassionate person; he’s a scientist who presents plenty of evidence to make a practical case for compassion toward animals. Tonight he will speak on the topic at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on 16th Street in Denver as he promotes his newest book on animal behavior:“Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation”.


Yes, Bekoff is as honest and upfront as he is analytical, and while he keeps a practical, professional tone in his approach, he makes no bones about being compassionate toward all creatures great and small. Compassion toward animals can be backed up as a scientific necessity for ecological survival of humans, he argues.


Culture of Empathy Builder: Marc Bekoff

Via Edwin Rutsch
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Rescooped by Marissa from Digital Delights!

CyberTracker GPS Field Data Collection System - The Origin of Science

CyberTracker GPS Field Data Collection System - The Origin of Science | Animal Sciences |
CyberTracker Software integrated for the use of tracking animals, birds, insects and other creatures in the animal kingdom through the latest in modern science and technology - an ancient art in a modern world.

Via Ana Cristina Pratas
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Rescooped by Marissa from Amazing Science!

Imaging fish larvae in 3D could aid rapid drug development

Imaging fish larvae in 3D could aid rapid drug development | Animal Sciences |

Automated 3‑D analysis of zebrafish larvae, often used as a window on embryonic growth, could aid in the development of new drugs.


Zebrafish larvae — tiny, transparent and fast-growing vertebrates — are widely used to study development and disease. However, visually examining the larvae for variations caused by drugs or genetic mutations is an imprecise, painstaking and time-consuming process.


Engineers at MIT have now built an automated system that can rapidly produce 3D, micron-resolution images of thousands of zebrafish larvae and precisely analyze their physical traits. The system, to be described in the Feb. 12 edition of Nature Communications, offers a comprehensive view of how potential drugs affect vertebrates, says Mehmet Fatih Yanik, senior author of the paper.


“Complex processes involving organs cannot be accurately recapitulated in cell culture today. Existing 3-D tissue models are still far too simple to model live animals,” says Yanik, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering. “In whole animals, the biology is far more complicated.”


Lead authors of the paper are MIT graduate student Carlos Pardo-Martin and Amin Allalou, a visiting student at MIT. Other authors are MIT senior research scientist Peter Eimon, MIT intern Jaime Medina, and Carolina Wahlby of the Broad Institute.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Marissa's insight:

I believe this is helpful in many ways. In the science world, we need as many things we can discover. The more we know, the more we can work with. There are so many new opportunities now because we can look into the complications of traits in animals. Also, zebra fish can be used as an aid of developing new drugs and medicines.

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