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eomaia scansoria, eomaia - is it a rodent
Eomaia "dawn mother" is a genus of extinct fossil mammals containing the single species Eomaia scansoria, discovered in rocks that were found in the Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, China, and dated to the Barremian Age of the Lower Cretaceous about 125 million years ago[1] The single fossil specimen of this species is 10 centimetres 39 in in length and virtually complete An estimate of the body weight is between 20–25 grams 071–088 oz It is exceptionally well-preserved for a 125-million-year-old specimen Although the fossil's skull is squashed flat, its teeth, tiny foot bones, cartilages and even its fur are visible[1]


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Classification
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links



The Eomaia fossil shows clear traces of hair[1] However, this is not the earliest clear evidence of hair in the mammalian lineage, as fossils of Volaticotherium,[2] and the docodont Castorocauda, discovered in rocks dated to about 164 million years ago, also have traces of fur[3]

Eomaia scansoria possessed several features in common with placental mammals that distinguish them from metatherians, the group that includes modern marsupials These include an enlarged malleolus "little hammer" at the bottom of the tibia the larger of the two shin bones,[1] a joint between the first metatarsal bone and the entocuneiform bone in the foot which is offset further back than the joint between the second metatarsal and mesocuneiform bones in metatherians these joints are level with each other,[1] as well as various features of jaws and teeth[1]

However, E scansoria is not a true placental mammal as it lacks some features that are specific to placentals These include the presence of a malleolus at the bottom of the fibula, the smaller of the two shin bones,[1] a complete mortise and tenon upper ankle joint, where the rearmost bones of the foot fit into a socket formed by the ends of the tibia and fibula,[1] and an atypical ancestral eutherian dental formula, 5153/4153 incisors, canines, premolars, molars on each side of the top and bottom jaws respectively Eomaia had five upper and four lower incisors much more typical for metatherians and five premolars to three molars[1] Placental mammals have only up to three incisors on each top and bottom and four premolars to three molars, but the premolar/molar proportion is similar to placentals[4]

Eomaia, like other early mammals and living marsupials, had a narrow pelvic outlet suggesting small undeveloped neonates requiring extensive nurturing[5] Epipubic bones extend forwards from the pelvis;[1] these are not found in any placental, but are found in all other mammals, including non-placental eutherians, marsupials, monotremes and other Mesozoic mammals as well as in the cynodont therapsids that are closest to mammals Their function is to stiffen the body during locomotion[6] This stiffening would be harmful in pregnant placentals, whose abdomens need to expand[7]


Fossil cast

The discoverers of Eomaia claimed that, on the basis of 268 characters sampled from all major Mesozoic mammal clades and principal eutherian families of the Cretaceous, Eomaia could be placed at the root of the eutherian "family tree" along with Murtoilestes and Prokennalestes[1] This initial classification scheme is summarized below



 Sinodelphys szalayi

 Cainozoic metatheria


 Juramaia sinensis

 Montanalestes keeblerorum

 Murtoilestes abramovi

 Eomaia scansoria

 Prokennalestes trofimovi

 Cainozoic placentalia

Restoration of Eomaia feeding on the insect Cretophasmomima

In 2013, a much larger study of mammal relationships including fossil species was published by Maureen O'Leary and colleagues[8] The study, which examined 4541 anatomical characters of 86 mammal species including Eomaia scansoria, found "100% jackknife support that Eomaia falls outside of Eutheria as a stem taxon to Theria", and so could not be considered a placental or a eutherian as previously believed[8] The results of this study are summarized in the cladogram below



 Henkelotherium guimarotae

 Zhangheotherium quinquecuspidens

 Eomaia scansoria


The 2013 study by O'Leary et al is controversial[9] [10] [11] The original classification of Eomaia as a eutherian mammal is still widely accepted[12] [13] [14]

See also

  • Evolution of mammals
  • Juramaia 160 million years ago
  • Sinodelphys


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ji, Q; Luo, Z-X; Yuan, C-X; Wible, JR; Zhang, J-P & Georgi, JA April 2002 "The earliest known eutherian mammal" PDF Nature 416 6883: 816–822 doi:101038/416816a PMID 11976675 Archived from the original PDF on 2010-11-03 Retrieved 2008-09-24 
  2. ^ Meng, J; Hu, Y; Wang, Y; Wang, X; Li, C Dec 2006 "A Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China" Nature 444 7121: 889–893 doi:101038/nature05234 PMID 17167478 
  3. ^ Ji, Q; Luo, Z-X; Yuan, C-X; Tabrum, AR February 2006 "A Swimming Mammaliaform from the Middle Jurassic and Ecomorphological Diversification of Early Mammals" Science 311 5764: 1123–7 doi:101126/science1123026 PMID 16497926 
  4. ^ Novacek, M Jun 19, 1986 "The Primitie Eutherian Dental Formula" Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 6 2: 191–196 doi:101080/02724634198610011610 JSTOR 4523087 
  5. ^ Weil, A April 2002 "Mammalian evolution: Upwards and onwards" Nature 416 6883: 798–799 doi:101038/416798a PMID 11976661 Retrieved 2008-09-24 
  6. ^ Reilly, SM; White, TD January 2003 "Hypaxial Motor Patterns and the Function of Epipubic Bones in Primitive Mammals" Science 299 5605: 400–402 doi:101126/science1074905 PMID 12532019 Retrieved 2008-09-24 
  7. ^ Novacek, MJ; Rougier, GW; Wible, JR; McKenna, MC; Dashzeveg, D & Horovitz, I October 1997 "Epipubic bones in eutherian mammals from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia" Nature 389 6650: 483–486 doi:101038/39020 PMID 9333234 Retrieved 2008-09-24 
  8. ^ a b O'Leary, M A; Bloch, J I; Flynn, J J; Gaudin, T J; Giallombardo, A; Giannini, N P; Goldberg, S L; Kraatz, B P; Luo, Z-X; Meng, J; Ni, X; Novacek, M J; Perini, F A; Randall, Z S; Rougier, G W; Sargis, E J; Silcox, M T; Simmons, N B; Spaulding, M; Velazco, P M; Weksler, M; Wible, J R; Cirranello, A L 2013 "The Placental Mammal Ancestor and the Post-K-Pg Radiation of Placentals" Science 339 6120: 662–667 doi:101126/science1229237 PMID 23393258 
  9. ^ Springer, M S; Meredith, R W; Teeling, E C; Murphy, W J 2013 "Technical Comment on "The Placental Mammal Ancestor and the Post-K-Pg Radiation of Placentals"" Science 341 6146: 613–613 doi:101126/science1238025 ISSN 0036-8075 PMID 23929967 
  10. ^ dos Reis, M; Donoghue, P C J; Yang, Z 2014 "Neither phylogenomic nor palaeontological data support a Palaeogene origin of placental mammals" Biology Letters 10 1: 20131003–20131003 doi:101098/rsbl20131003 ISSN 1744-9561 PMC 3917342  PMID 24429684 
  11. ^ Romiguier, J; Ranwez, V; Delsuc, F; Galtier, N; Douzery, E J P 2013 "Less Is More in Mammalian Phylogenomics: AT-Rich Genes Minimize Tree Conflicts and Unravel the Root of Placental Mammals" Molecular Biology and Evolution 30 9: 2134–2144 doi:101093/molbev/mst116 ISSN 0737-4038 PMID 23813978 
  12. ^ Meng, J 2014 "Mesozoic mammals of China: implications for phylogeny and early evolution of mammals" National Science Review 1 4: 521–542 doi:101093/nsr/nwu070 ISSN 2095-5138 
  13. ^ Viriot, Laurent; Gheerbrant, Emmanuel; Amaghzaz, Mbarek; Bouya, Baadi; Goussard, Florent; Letenneur, Charlène 2014 "Ocepeia Middle Paleocene of Morocco: The Oldest Skull of an Afrotherian Mammal" PLoS ONE 9 2: e89739 doi:101371/journalpone0089739 ISSN 1932-6203 PMC 3935939  PMID 24587000 
  14. ^ Solé, Floréal; Falconnet, Jocelyn; Yves, Laurent 2014 "New proviverrines Hyaenodontida from the early Eocene of Europe; phylogeny and ecological evolution of the Proviverrinae" Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 171 4: 878–917 doi:101111/zoj12155 ISSN 0024-4082 

External links

  • Hecht, Jeff 24 April 2002 "Stunning fossil is human's earliest mammal relative" New Scientist Retrieved February 2012  Check date values in: |accessdate= help
  • Roach, John 25 January 2005 "Scientists Recreate Genome of Ancient Human Ancestor" National Geographic News Retrieved February 2012  Check date values in: |accessdate= help

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