Scientists Find Saber Tooth Squirrel From Dinosaurs Age

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By Elton Jones , Christian Post Reporter
November 3, 2011|5:44 pm

Researchers recently found the remains of a saber-toothed squirrel-like mammal that may have existed during the Dinosaurs age.

Scientists came upon the remains in a remote part of southwestern Argentina. This particular area was described as having periodic floods, which killed off the animals living there in the past.

Several skeletons of dinosaurs and small vertebrates from history's past were also found. Other mammals that once made their home in South America during the Dinosaurs age are still unknown.

Researchers have only come upon one mammal skull in South America that dated back 130 million years. It is the size of a small possum and was named "Vincelestes neuquenianus."

The saber-toothed squirrel, which was classified as "Cronopio dentiacutus," garners its first name from the stories by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar. The Cronopio title is derived from the fictional beats the author depicted in his books. As for the Latin word dentiacutus, this word stands for "sharp, acute teeth."

The Cronopio dentiacutus now stands as the only other mammal known from the Age of Dinosaurs.

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This prehistoric squirrel reportedly featured long fangs, a long snout and large eyes. Its fangs would have measured to 0.2 inches long, about one-fifth the length of its head.

Researcher Guillermo Rougier, an anatomist and vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, described the mysterious creature: "It looks somewhat like Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel from 'Ice Age.' The comparison with Scrat is superficial, but it just goes to show how diverse ancient mammals are, that we can just imagine some bizarre critter and later find something just like it."

The "Cronopio dentiacutus" may have been a plant eater, since its long canine teeth are usually found on insect-eaters.

"Modern-day insectivores use long canines mostly to just grab and hold prey,” said Rougier.

"Still, we don't have living parallels with any canines quite as long as seen in Cronopio - it's just beyond the scales we know,” Rougier added.

 

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