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On the News @ The Guardian


New fossil mammal was the first ‘King’ of Scotland


Wareolestes rex, a Jurassic mammal fossil found on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Illustration: Elsa Panciroli

“Until now, only two mammal species were known from the Middle Jurassic of Scotland. This month, my colleagues and I added a third one to the list: Wareolestes rex. This fossil from the Isle of Skye isn’t a new species, but until now only a few of its teeth had been found in England. We now have a lower jaw, not only with permanent molar teeth, but with replacement teeth pushing up through the gumline. This confirms the little ancestor replaced its teeth like a modern mammal – and probably fed its young on milk.

The history of Scottish Mesozoic mammals – the first mammals that lived alongside the dinosaurs in the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous – doesn’t take long to recount. Scotland undoubtedly crawled with these little creatures, but unfortunately there are very few Mesozoic rocks in the country to tell the tale. Scottish deposits that date from these times, between 252 and 66 million years ago, are mostly marine; laid down under salt water. As I’m sure you can imagine, there weren’t a lot of small furry mammals living on the seabed, not now, nor in the Mesozoic.

The Isle of Skye is an exception. Not only are there Mesozoic rocks nestled under the volcanic blanket of the Cuillin mountain range, but rocks from the Middle Jurassic. This was a time when the first mammals (and many other groups, including dinosaurs) underwent an explosion in diversity. However, it is also a time with a poor fossil record globally, so palaeontologists are keen to find more of these rare fossils to figure out what the causes of the diversity increase could be.” (…) READ MORE

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)