Eat and listen—how chewing and hearing evolved

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Science  17 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6475, pp. 244-246
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba3808

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In rare cases, fossils function like snapshots, capturing key moments of evolution. One of these rare cases is Origolestes lii, a stem therian mammal from the Yixian Formation (China) described by Mao et al. (1) on page 305 of this issue. The study provides a glimpse of a fundamental moment in mammalian evolution—the separation of middle ear elements from the Meckelian cartilage of the lower jaw, which provided freedom to the system to improve both chewing function and hearing ability.

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