Protomammal survival in a dying worldProtomammal survival in a dying world

   The Protomammal’s Survival Saga: Navigating a Dying World  , About 250 million years ago, widespread volcanic eruptions changed the earth’s atmosphere and thus its climate, ushering in the “Great Dying”, also known as Permian extinction. About nine out of 10 species have gone extinct over the million years or so that herbivores and carnivores have battled for resources, including the formidable exotic bird.

A saber-toothed carnivore that probably had tough rhinoceros skin and ran on all fours, the alien was the largest gorgonops, a group of proto-mammals that were top predators in the years before the dinosaurs. Scientists thought inostrancevia lived only in modern-day Russia, but the discovery of new fossils in South Africa means it must have migrated 7,000 miles across the supercontinent Pangea to reach a new home.

Researchers aren’t sure why inostrancevia traveled so far from its original habitat or how long the migration took.

“The fossils themselves were quite unexpected,” says co-author Pia Viglietti, a research associate at the Field Museum in Chicago, in press release.

Where did the saber-toothed animal go?

When inostrancevia arrived in the Karoo Basin of South Africa, it would have faced few competitors, as most had already become extinct, long before most other species. learning found. Predators there served as canaries in the coal mine, researchers say, and after leaving fossils, inostrancevia also died out.

Read more: The Permian Extinction: Life on Earth Almost Extinct During the ‘Great Dying’

Overall, the role of the top carnivore in the basin changed four times in less than 2 million years around the Permian extinction, “which is unprecedented in the history of life on land,” says co-author Christian Kammerer, research curator of paleontology at the Museum of Natural Sciences at North Carolina, in a news release.

“This shows that South Africa’s Karoo Basin continues to produce critical data for understanding the most catastrophic mass extinction in Earth’s history,” co-author Jennifer Botha, a professor at the Institute for Evolutionary Studies, said in a press release.

Predators are facing extinction

The basin also sheds light on how carnivores are disappearing in the modern world, where natural ranges are often shrinking due to human encroachment.

“Think of wolves in Europe or tigers in Asia, species that tend to reproduce and grow slowly and need large geographic areas to roam and hunt prey,” Kammerer says. “Apex predators in modern environments tend to […] to be among the first species to be locally extirpated.’

No one knows for sure whether gorgonopsians had fur or reptile-like skin, although they are thought to have hunted reptiles, especially pareiasaurs, the largest lizards that lived during the Permian period. Inostrancevia also fed on dicynodonts, their smaller pig-like relatives in the Gorgonopsian clade.

Scientists have classified the four-legged carnivores as therapsids, along with the creatures that evolved into modern mammals. But inostrancevia most likely reproduces by laying eggs.

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