Research Article

A Swimming Mammaliaform from the Middle Jurassic and Ecomorphological Diversification of Early Mammals

Science  24 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5764, pp. 1123-1127
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123026

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Abstract

A docodontan mammaliaform from the Middle Jurassic of China possesses swimming and burrowing skeletal adaptations and some dental features for aquatic feeding. It is the most primitive taxon in the mammalian lineage known to have fur and has a broad, flattened, partly scaly tail analogous to that of modern beavers. We infer that docodontans were semiaquatic, convergent to the modern platypus and many Cenozoic placentals. This fossil demonstrates that some mammaliaforms, or proximal relatives to modern mammals, developed diverse locomotory and feeding adaptations and were ecomorphologically different from the majority of generalized small terrestrial Mesozoic mammalian insectivores.

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