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November 27 2012

Scrappy Mammal Survived Dinosaur Extinction


A scrappy family of mammals with unusual, mismatched features moved underground and, like living in a perpetual bomb shelter, managed to survive the mass extinction event 65 million years ago that wiped out the world's non-avian dinosaurs.

We know this thanks to new research on the fossil mammal Necrolestes patagonensis, whose name translates to "grave robber," referring to its burrowing and underground lifestyle. The animal, described in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, had an upturned snout, a sturdy body structure, and short, wide legs.

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