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Mammals of the Mesozoic

September 26th, 2006 by Mike Keesey :: 15 Comments

(You knew it had to happen, Debbie.)

Even though the Mesozoic is called the “Age of Reptiles” and the ensuing Cenozoic the “Age of Mammals”, there were a fair number of mammals around in the Mesozoic. Many people don’t realize it, but mammals and dinosaurs originated right around the same time as each other, in the early Late Triassic (or shortly before).

By the end of the Mesozoic (around Carney’s time), mammals had diversified into many of the groups we know today: monotremes, marsupials, xenarthrans, afrotheres, archontans, glireans, carnivorans, pholidotans, artiodactyls, perissodactlys, chiropterans, and lipotyphlans. Of course, they hadn’t diverged in appearance much—they all looked more or less like Ferd and Dan, and didn’t get any larger than small dogs.

One type of mammal relative did grow large enough to prey on dinosaurs, though. A specimen of Repenomamus robustus was found with a juvenile Psittacosaurus in its belly. Doubtless a tasty last meal.

No such luck for Ferd and Dan.

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