PerspectivePaleontology

Digging Up Fresh Clues About the Origin of Mammals

Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1496-1497
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061106

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Summary

Whereas evolutionary biologists studying mammals have the advantage of being able to analyze living specimens of the three mammalian subgroups (monotremes, marsupials, and placentals), paleontologists interested in mammalian ancestors have had to make do with limited fragments of fossil skeletons. As Wyss explains in his Perspective, the finding of a beautifully preserved mammaliaform fossil in China, called Hadrocodium, is set to change our views about the morphological features that characterize modern-day mammals and their ancient ancestors.