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Nature13 January 2005

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Mammal bites dinosaur

We tend to think of the the mammals that lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs as scuttling around trying not to get eaten or trodden on. They were small, the size of a modern shrew or rat, feeding on insects, and active during evening hours. That picture is changing. The extinct mammal Repenomamus robustus, discovered five years ago, broke the mould: it was much bigger, the size of a Virginia opossum. And now another member of the genus Repenomamus has been found that is half as big again, the size of a badger or jackal. What's more, a specimen of R. robustus has been found preserved with its last meal inside its stomach — the bones of young dinosaurs. These carnivorous mammals were beginning to come out of the shadows.

letters to nature
Large Mesozoic mammals fed on young dinosaurs
YAOMING HU , JIN MENG, YUANQING WANG & CHUANKUI LI
Nature 433, 149–152 (2005); doi:10.1038/nature03102
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news and views
Mammalian palaeobiology: Living large in the Cretaceous
ANNE WEIL
Discoveries of large, carnivorous mammals from the Cretaceous challenge the long-held view that primitive mammals were small and uninteresting. Have palaeontologists been asking the wrong questions?
Nature 433, 116–117 (2005); doi:10.1038/433116b
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13 January 2005 table of contents

  
  © 2005 Nature Publishing Group