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New 125 mya Mammal Fossil Had Mix Of Placental And Marsupial Features


Scientists in China (map) have discovered a fossilized small, furry animal that walked like a platypus but looked like a shrew. The unusual find provides important new clues to the evolution of early mammals, the researchers say.

Found in the province of Liaoning in northeast China, the well-preserved fossil shows a previously unknown species of insect-eating mammal that lived alongside dinosaurs some 125 million years ago.

Measuring four inches (12 centimeters) long and weighing 15 to 20 grams (0.5 to 0.7 ounce), the shrewlike creature had a thick coat of fur.
"This new fossil is a chimera of body structures of different kinds of mammals," said Zhe-Xi Luo, curator of vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

"Its front half resembles those of more derived marsupials and placentals, but its back half is unmistakably monotreme-like."

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/28521227.html top photo shows body outline