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Scientists Unearthed Fossil of the Oldest Known Ancestor of Modern Rats in China

Aug 17, 2013 14:50 IST

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing and the University of Chicago revealed on 15 August 2013 that a fossil of the oldest known ancestor of modern rats was unearthed in China. The newly named species is called Rugosodon eurasiaticus. The recent fossil was found in Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation in eastern China.

Facts about Rugosodon eurasiaticus

• Rugosodon eurasiaticus is a responsive creature with ability to climb, burrow as well as eat anything.
• The species had flexible ankles which helped it for tree-climbing.
• It also had sharp teeth which were used to gnaw not just plants, but also the animals.
• The creature had the body mass of about 65 to 80 grams (2.3-2.8 ounces).
• The newly discovered species is one of the oldest ancestors in the multituberculate family.
• The adaptations like these enabled the ancient rat-like rodents known as multituberculates become one of the longest living mammals in the history.
• The multituberculate are believed to have originated 160 million years ago, i.e., during the Jurassic Period. It is believed that they lived for around 100 million years during the dinosaurs’ age and then the modern rodents overcame.
• The abilities of this species led to their diversification as well as evolution in the range of tree-dwelling and plant-eating mammals which followed thereafter.
• The name of this fossil came from Latin rugosus for wrinkles and odon for tooth. Eurasiaticus meant its widespread territory.
• The fossil is quite like the ones found in Portugal, which indicated towards the fact that the relatives of the species were found across the entire Eurasian continent.

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