Feeds

Proto-mammals survived ancient global warming in Antarctica

Flight from tropics saved egg-laying furless cat

Security for virtualized datacentres

Fossil-probing boffins say they have found evidence that early mammal-like creatures survived a severe episode of global warming 252 million years ago by moving to Antarctica. Most other species then living were wiped out.

The new research comes from scientists at the Field Museum in Chicago and the University of Washington. According to a statement released by the Field Museum:

Scientists are still debating what caused the end-Permian extinction, but it was likely associated with massive volcanic activity in Siberia that could have triggered global warming... A new fossil species suggests that some land animals may have survived by living in cooler climates in Antarctica.

The new species in question is Kombuisia antarctica, a curious critter classed among the anomodonts, "mammal relatives" which are now all extinct but which were the main plant-eaters in the era prior to the big die-off.

"Kombuisia antarctica, about the size of a small house cat, was considerably different from today's mammals — it likely laid eggs, didn't nurse its young and didn't have fur, and it is uncertain whether it was warm blooded," says Kenneth Angielczyk, assistant curator of paleomammology at the Field Museum.

Angielczyk and his colleagues say that Antarctica hadn't yet moved fully down to its present position at the south pole at the time of the extinction, and as a result it was somewhat warmer and not covered in ice. However it was cooler than the rest of the supercontinent Pangaea, from which today's land masses broke off, allowing K antarctica to survive there when the rest of the world became uncomfortably hot.

The scientists discovered the creature among fossils collected thirty years ago and stored at the American Museum of Natural History since then. The boffins who analysed them when they were first obtained were primarily interested in Pangaea, rather than species survival through the extinction.

The new study is to be published in the journal Naturwissenschaften today. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
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
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
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.
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.
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.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.