145 million-year-old fossils of tiny rat-like creatures that are the oldest mammals related to humans are found on Dorset's Jurassic Coast

Mail Online | 11/7/2017 | Ellie Zolfagharifard for MailOnline
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They walked the Jurassic Coast of Dorset around 145 million-years ago.

Now scientists have discovered fossils of the oldest mammals related to mankind.

Researchers - Teeth - Creatures - Shadow - Dinosaurs

Researchers have found two teeth from small, rat-like creatures that lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs.

They are the earliest undisputed fossils of mammals belonging to the line that led to human beings.

Ancestors - Mammals - Today - Creatures - Whale

They are also the ancestors to most mammals alive today, including creatures as diverse as the blue whale and the pigmy shrew.

The findings are published today in the Journal, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, in a paper by Dr Steve Sweetman.

Dr - Sweetman - Research - Fellow - Portsmouth

Dr Sweetman, a research fellow at Portsmouth University, identified the teeth but it was undergraduate student, Grant Smith who made the discovery.

Dr Sweetman said: 'Grant was sifting through small samples of earliest Cretaceous rocks collected on the coast of Dorset as part of his undergraduate dissertation project in the hope of finding some interesting remains.

Teeth - Type - Rocks - Age

'Quite unexpectedly he found not one but two quite remarkable teeth of a type never before seen from rocks of this age.

'I was asked to look at them and give an opinion and even at first glance my jaw dropped!'

Teeth - Type - Remains - Early - Cretaceous

'The teeth are of a type so highly evolved that I realised straight away I was looking at remains of Early Cretaceous mammals that more closely resembled those that lived during the latest Cretaceous - some 60 million years later in geological history.

'In the world of palaeontology there has been a lot of debate around a specimen found in China, which is approximately 160 million years old.

'This - Type - Ours - Studies

'This was originally said to be of the same type as ours but recent studies have ruled this out.

'That being the case, our 145 million year old teeth are undoubtedly the earliest yet known from the line of mammals that lead to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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