I admit that I am completely in love with the above picture – one of the most beautiful reconstructions I have ever seen from the age of the dinosaurs in China today. There is no shortage of spectacular dinosaurs there, but this time the stars are the animals the kind reader sees underground.
They are the Fossiomanus sinensis (the largest above) and the Jueconodon cheni (below), discovered by Jin Meng’s team at the American Museum of Natural History in Liaoning Province, and are approximately 120 million years old.
The first measured 32 cm, the second 18 cm. And as the artistic reconstruction clearly shows, both had fossil habits and were clearly excavators like today’s Tuco-Tucos or moles. Interestingly, these adaptations developed independently of one another: Despite the mammalian face, F. sinensis belonged to a more primitive group of mammal-like reptiles, the trithilodontid cynodonts; J. cheni, on the other hand, was a mammal, though also very primitive, far removed from the current furry animal groups.
The description of the animals can be found in this article in the journal Nature. Special features in the number of vertebrae of both help to understand how the diversity of the body shapes of mammals came about today.
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