STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 September 2013

Surprise Mammals!

We have discussed mammals here before, and usually I announce when we will deviate from our dinosaur topics, but I received a very kindly worded request not too long ago to discuss mammals again and I wanted to surprise everyone, request maker included, rather than build up anticipation, etc. However, it is a great pleasure to deviate from the norm for the month of September and discuss, though not my favorite group in the wide world of animals, the mammals of the early days of the age of mammals. Technically I have mentioned this week's little mammal before on here. A while back when discussing the age of giant birds I discussed very briefly a prey item for some giant birds; a small mammal with shrew-like qualities and the locomotion of a tiny kangaroo: Leptictidium. Leptictidium is a genus comprised of five species: L. auderiense, L. ginsburgi, L. nasutum, L. sigei, and L. tobieni. These small mammals were forest dwelling bipedal insectivores that were successfully spread across the forests of Europe during the Eocene but went extinct as the forests gave way to open grasslands in the Oligocene. Today they have left us with no descendants and little soft anatomy, but a fair assortment of well preserved skeletal anatomy.

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