Scientists have found the oldest furry beast

In Spain, discovered the fossils of a mammal that lived in the heyday of the dinosaurs - 125 million years ago. The remains of an animal so well preserved that scientists have been able to see traces of fur, skin and internal organs. The finding reported by the journal Nature.

Hunters fossils from the Autonomous University of Madrid have found the remains of the animal in the territory of the quarry Las Hoyas, near the city of Cuenca in central Spain. In the early Cretaceous in this area was a swampy lowland covered with lush vegetation.

Being named Spinolestes xenarthrosus (”spiked robber”), its length is 24 cm, and weight - not more than 70 grams (about as modern rat). “Robber” belonged to an extinct order of mammals - trikodontam. Spinolest ate insects.

Small spikes on the bottom of the spine were supposed to protect the animal from contemporary predators, for example, toothed pelekanimimusa, like a large ostrich. Spikes easily detached from the body, scoring the mouth of predators. Additional protection is provided spinolestu scales on the back (a primitive version of the armadillo plates).

The device skin and hair spinolesta resembles modern mammals. In particular, he discovered compound follicles (where one of the pores grow some hair). “Hairs and related coating structures play a fundamental role in the life of mammals. Fossils suggest that the ancient beasts they were formed in the same way as in modern,” - said co-author Zhe-Xi Luo (Zhe-Xi Luo).

15 October 2015

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