prehistoric mammals

12 Stories

It Was a Wolf-Sized Otter, but With Jaws Like a Bear

Modern otters wouldn't stand a chance against Siamogale melilutra

(Newser) - Modern-day sea otters would prove no match for their 6-million-year-old, wolf-sized ancestors , who didn't need rocks to smash open mollusks. They could do that, and perhaps rip into tougher and larger prey, with a single bite from surprisingly powerful jaws, according to new research. In the latest study of... More »

Giant Prehistoric Otter Found—but Why So Big?

The size of a wolf, the bite of a badger

(Newser) - Picture an otter, then envision it ballooning to twice—or triple, or quadruple—its size until it's a 110-pound creature: It's not a journey into the imagination, but to yesteryear. An international team of scientists has announced news of the largest otter ever found, one that lived some... More »

Darwin's 'Strange Animals' Puzzle Solved

Protein-sequencing method could lead to other discoveries

(Newser) - A humpless, snouted camel? Check. A rhino with the teeth of a rodent and head of a hippo? No problem, scientists say, after apparently figuring out, finally, where these mystery creatures sit on the mammalian family tree, Nature reports. Charles Darwin discovered fossils of these ancient creatures while visiting South... More »

'Punxsutawney Phil on Steroids' Is Unearthed

'Vintana sertichi' dwarfed other mammals of its day

(Newser) - Back in the dinosaurs' day, mammals were the size of mice. But towering above them was one beefy rodent that one scientist calls "Punxsutawney Phil on steroids"—with super senses to boot. The 20-pound Vintana sertichi was accidentally found in a giant slab of sandstone in Madagascar, reports... More »

Mammals Have Been Around Way Longer Than We Thought

Squirrel-like Jurassic creatures tell story: researchers

(Newser) - A squirrel-like animal in the tree branches above would have been a familiar sight to some dinosaurs, researchers have learned. Newly discovered fossils indicate that mammals have been around since "at least" the late Triassic period, an expert says, though he acknowledges that his claim—which suggests mammals appeared... More »

Did a Flower Shortage Kill the Woolly Mammoth?

Or did a mammoth shortage kill the flowers?

(Newser) - Scary as they might have looked, woolly mammoths had a decidedly non-threatening diet: They feasted on small flowers, according to a new theory. And the decline of these once-abundant plants, called forbs, may explain the disappearance of the mammoths themselves, NPR reports. Experts had believed woolly mammoths ate grass, but... More »

Climate Change, Not Humans, Killed Mammoths

New tests suggest humans aren't to blame for extinction of prehistoric pachyderms

(Newser) - British scientists believe climate change did more than spear-wielding humans to wipe out the woolly mammoth in Europe, the Guardian reports. New tests have revealed that the mammoths roamed northern Europe until 14,000 years ago, much later than had been thought. Researchers believe the animals died out as the... More »

Baby Mammoth Gives Up Secrets

(Newser) - A nearly perfectly preserved 37,000-year-old baby mammoth is giving up tantalizing secrets about her species, scientists report. The creature, dubbed Lyuba by researchers, still sports clumps of hair and eyelashes, according to the Telegraph. Scientists have been able to examine stomach contents and the mineral makeup of the bones... More »

Skull Hints at Caveman Compassion

Skull suggests ancient humans cared for sick

(Newser) - Scientists have pieced together the skull of an ancient human who appears to have been deformed, but survived to at least age 5—suggesting he or she was cared for in spite of the handicap. That’s evidence for the existence of compassion in early humans, a trait other primates... More »

Horses Tamed Earlier Than We Thought

(Newser) - Horses were domesticated 1,000 years earlier than thought, a finding that could prompt a rethinking of ancient human history, the BBC reports. A team from Exeter University found evidence of the use of harness bits on teeth—as well as horse meat and horse milk beverages—in Kazakhstan that... More »

B.C. a Mammoth Waste of Time

CGI wizardry doesn't sustain 10,000 B.C.

(Newser) - The prehistoric adventure 10,000 B.C. isn't just a spectacle of cutting-edge effects, it's "a tedious bore in which grubby people stand around muttering in a variety of badly chosen accents," writes Josh Tyler in Cinema Blend. Unfortunately for writer/director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After ... More »

BC Movie Critters Strong on Terror, Not Accuracy

Still, most of the beasts in the new flick did exist somewhere at some point

(Newser) - The computer-generated critters in the movie 10,000 BC—due out Friday—all actually existed at some point, but their portrayal in the film is scientifically sketchy. Saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths weren't as big as portrayed, and the film's huge terror birds died out 40 million years ago. One... More »

12 Stories