The dinosaur age featured mammals which were puny sized and weighed less than a pound. However the chance discovery of a bizarre fossil skull from Madagascar has revealed a giant which could have weighed 20 pounds.
The discovery of the fossilized skull of some groundhog like creature in Madagascar some 66 to 70 million years ago has shook the scientist’s notion of the mammalian family tree. The skull f this animal has been christened Vintana sertichi, was found in 2010. Vintana sertichi is a member of a group of animals who are known as gondwanatherians. Till date only a few isolated teeth and a few jaw fragments have been discovered. The discovery of a well preserved skull allowed the scientists the first insight into the life habits and relationships of gondwanatherians.
David Krause of Stony Brook University in New York, who led the discovery team said, “It was a monster. It looks like a big groundhog.”
Krause says that the creature might have measured 20 inches to 24 inches from nose to rump. It lived sometime between 66 million and 72 million years ago.
The paper was published in the journal Nature and Krause and colleagues christened the creature as Vintana sertichi (VIN’-ti-nuh SIR’-tich-eye). Vintana means “luck” in the Malagasy language of Madagascar was chosen because the skull appeared unexpectedly. The discovery was made when the researchers were doing a CT Scan of a large sandstone block looking for Fish Fossils. The unexpectedly found the skull of this creature.
Krause said “We saw this thing staring back at us. We were just amazed.”
The second name sertichi was in honor of Joseph Sertich, now a curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, who collected the sandstone block in 2010.