Early Mammals Had Social Lives, Too

60-Second Science


Six million years ago a group of small mammals huddled in a borough in. What's now montana. They were good diggers most likely furry and petite. They could sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. I mean if you saw them running around today you probably think it looks like a small rodent of some sort like a chipmunk or or a a mouse or or something like that lucas. Weaver is a mammal paleobiologist at the university of washington. These little creatures didn't belong to any of the three main mammal groups on the planet today. Which are the placental. Mammals like us monitoring like the platypus and marsupials like koalas and kangaroos. Instead they belong to another now. Extinct group called the multi to berkowitz their teeth. Is what really distinguishes them from. From any other group of mammals they have these really bizarre molars with these multiple bumps on on the teeth which is where they get their name. Multi typically it just means many bumps. weaver in his colleagues have studied the fossilized skulls and skeletons of these animals dug up in montana. And they've given him a name. Philippe amis prime. Mavis friendly or neighborly mouse. The details are in the journal. Nature ecology and lucien. Weaver says drought or climate. Change may have killed the animals though. It's hard to be sure. But the critters were fossilized together in ways that suggest they sought out each other's company. That's a big deal because it's commonly thought that social behavior didn't arise in mammals until after the death of the dinosaurs. Ten million years after these smokers hung out together the narrative for decades his been that mammals that were living during the dinosaurs were mostly solitary rat like creatures that were kind of scuttling the night under the foot of dinosaurs. In so the fact that we're finding these multi berkeley mammals totally unrelated ancient group mammals. That's apparently exhibiting social behavior means that this was probably not uncommon among these early mesozoic mammals. And it kind of changes. The narrative of sociology is somehow unique to placental mammals. Even today social behavior is relatively rare among mammals but these findings suggest the need for company in some mammalian species is an ancient

Coming up next