(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have described three species of mammals new to science that lived on Earth during the Paleocene era (from 65 to 23 million years ago), shortly after the death of dinosaurs.
One of the new species was named after the character of The Hobbit.
scientists described three new species and features that distinguish them from other closely related creatures from the Paleocene era.
Three new species – Miniconus jeanninae, Conacodon hettingeri and Beornus honeyi – lived in North America and ranged in size from a rat to a modern domestic cat.
Beornus honeyi (the largest of them) was named after the character Beorn from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.
All three are descended from a group of placental mammals (early ancestors of modern ungulates) known as the condylarthra of the family Periptychidae.
What distinguishes them from others is the unique structure of their teeth, which allowed them to eat both meat and plants. Therefore, according to scientists, they were omnivores.
“When the dinosaurs died out, access to a variety of foods and environments allowed mammals to thrive and quickly diversify their tooth structure and develop larger body sizes.
They clearly took advantage of this opportunity, as we can see from the emergence of new mammal species that occurred in a relatively short period of time after the mass extinction, ” the researchers write.
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