Morganucodon, Our Oldest Mammal Ancestor
The Baluchitherium of Chapman Andrews
Stories About Our Natural History
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Did monkeys share the world with dinosaurs? Are they sharing it now?
Primates in particular, and mammals in general, have been evolving in our world for quite a long time now, and if we 'Homo sapiens' are what we are, it is because our ancestors have been evolving since the era of the dinosaurs. In fact, the first mammal appeared about the same time as the dinosaurs. Its name is 'Morganucodon' and its fossils have allowed scientists to identify it positively as the oldest known mammal; it was like a shrewd, about 15 cm long. Not so much for an impressive animal, but a very important one indeed.
The oldest primate fossils known come from Montana, in the United States; what corresponds to the oldest primate is just a fossilised tooth. This species has been named 'Purgatorius' and comes from the late Cretaceous, around 70 million years ago. This animal lived at the time of the last dinosaurs, which disappeared 66,4 million years ago. No human being lived during the age of the dinosaurs, and 'Purgatorius' seems so far to have been our only representative then.
And if you consider that birds are brothers of the dinosaurs and many people think that they are, in fact, dinos themselves, well... the answer is that while there was never a world like those of the Flyntsones, monkeys and dinosaurs have indeed met face to face.
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