Editor's Summary

23 June 2005

Once bitten...


Salivary venoms are a rarity in mammals, found only in the duck-billed platypus, the Caribbean Solenodon, and a few shrews. Until now there were no known extinct mammals so equipped, but well preserved specimens of a small pantolestid insectivore have now been found with a venom delivery apparatus involving specialized teeth similar in function but structurally distinct from those of living venomous mammals. The specimens are about 60 million years old, from the late Palaeocene sediments in central Alberta that contain some exceptionally well preserved mammalian fossils.

LetterFirst evidence of a venom delivery apparatus in extinct mammals

Richard C. Fox and Craig S. Scott

doi: 10.1038/nature03646

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