Research Shows Endangered Mammal May Have Lived With Dinosaurs
Science| | By Brian Delpozo
Scientists have discovered that an endangered mammal, the Hispaniola solenodon, may have coexisted with dinosaurs and survived the asteroid impact that wiped those other creatures out.
According to new research in the journal of Mitochondrial DNA the creature diverged from other mammals 78 million years ago, long before Earth’s dinosaurs died off. A research team made up of personnel from universities in Illinois and Puerto Rico made the discovery after successfully sequencing the animal’s DNA.
The shrew-sized, venomous solenodon is native to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
In a press release, Adam Brandt, researcher at the University of Illinois commented on the creature’s evolution.
“It’s just impressive it’s survived this long. It survived the asteroid; it survived human colonization and the rats and mice humans brought with them that wiped out the solenodon’s closest relatives.”
The discovery has added fuel to an on-going debate as to how animals ended up on the island of Hispaniola. Some believe the island was once actually a part of Mexico, but began drifting away from the Yucatan Peninsula approximately 75 million years ago.
Lead researcher Alfred Roca, a professor of animal sciences and member of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, addressed the theory in a statement.
“Whether they got on the island when the West Indies ran into Mexico 75 million years ago, or whether they floated over on driftwood or whatever else much later is not very clear,” said Roca.