Sunday, November 6, 2011

Squirrel Facts: Ancient Saber-Toothed Squirrel Found

This is an artist's rendition of a saber-toothed squirrel that lived alongside dinosaurs during the late Cretaceous period:

We're in a bad mood because acorns haven't
evolved yet!
This find is scientifically significant because this creature closely resembles a prehistoric squirrel character from the Ice Age films. At least that's the impression I get, as every article I have read about this discovery has emphasized this point. Perhaps more importantly, this is the first discovery of a mammalian species in South America that lived during this long-ago time.

The creature is called cronopio dentiacutus. It was less than six inches long and probably ate insects. It likely survived by staying out of sight of the dinosaurs, keeping under cover and venturing out at night.

The comparison to squirrels is, actually, purely superficial. Cronopio was not even related to modern squirrels. At least that's what the scientists say. But I still think there is a certain unmistakable family resemblance.

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