Feeds

Dead dinos no help to emerging mammals

Challenging conventional wisdom

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The triumphant rise of the mammals had nothing to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs, according to new research, published in the journal Nature.

The paper's co-author, Kate Jones, told BBC Radio 4: "The meteor impact that killed off the dinosaurs has traditionally been thought to have given mammals the edge they needed."

The text book theory goes that with the dinosaurs gone, the mammals suddenly had an embarrassment of ecological niches to exploit and roles to evolve into. But with the new family tree, this conventional wisdom is being called into question.

Boffins at the Zoological society in London, including Jones, have rebuilt a mammalian family "supertree", showing when and where various groupings of mammals emerged. Their evidence, which draws on several peer reviewed studies, shows that mammals had begun to diversify long before the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The work shows that the major subgroupings of placental mammals emerged 93 million years ago, some 28 million years before the impact thought most likely to have killed off the giant lizards.

They remained quite static in their existence, the rate of evolution falling back, until 10 million years or so after the dinosaurs left the building. The beginning of this epoch, called the Eocene, was characterised by a period of extremely fast warming: geological evidence suggests the global temperature rose by six degrees in a thousand years or less.

However, Dr Rob Asher, an expert on mammalian phylogeny at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that the idea of a sudden extinction of dinosaurs and subsequent flourishing of mammals is something of a straw man.

"Palaeontologists have known for over a hundred years that not all modern placental mammal groups appear right after the K-T boundary. Most orders of placental mammals - what I mean by that is cats and bats and whales and people - appear at the Eocene. On the flipside, not all dinosaurs disappear at the end of the Cretaceous," he said. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.