(p. A17) With technologies like CT scans and 3-D printing, a team of scientists reported on Monday that it had solved a mystery about the family tree of mammals that started with a single tooth a century and a half ago.
The tooth, found in Germany in 1847, was tiny and distinctive in shape — not quite reptile, not quite mammal. More fossils of that kind were found around Europe, but always just single teeth. Scientists named this group of animals haramiyids — Arabic for “trickster.”
The teeth were embedded in rocks as old as 210 million years, an era in which ancestors of the first mammals were evolving.
. . .
What was unclear was whether Haramiyavia was a direct part of the family tree of mammals — that would push the emergence of mammals back to more than 200 million years ago — or an evolutionary branch that split off before common ancestors of mammals emerged, the view of paleontologists who believe that the first mammals evolved 170 million to 160 million years ago.
For the full story, see:
KENNETH CHANG. “Jawbone in Rock May Solve Mammal Family Mystery.” The New York Times (Tues., NOV. 17, 2015): A17.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 16, 2015, and has the title “Jawbone in Rock May Clear Up a Mammal Family Mystery.”)