One of the reasons for the success of mammals? Start small.

about the episode

There are many theories as to how mammals succeeded as they are today. The tongue evolved, among other things, but also a different diet. And which diet exactly, researchers now think they can confirm.

Many vertebrates, including fish and reptiles, have a skull and lower jaw made up of several bones. The ancestors of modern mammals, who lived about 300 million years ago, also had this skeleton.

Over time, the number of bones decreased. The skull and lower jaw have become much simpler. There were also fewer teeth. Now a group of international paleontologists think they know why, thanks to clever computer simulations.

It has been hypothesized that these changes in bone structure were necessary to create a stronger bite or a stronger skull, but they contradict this. Osteopenia, they say, caused a different distribution of pressure in early mammals. Stress is transmitted from the part of the skull where the brain is located to the edges of the skull while eating. This may ensure that the brain has more room to grow.

Changes in skull structure, as well as changes in diet, have been linked to mammalian size. Which in turn led to more variation in the species, as we know them today. And smaller animals, it must also mean that the type of prey must be smaller. Therefore, early mammals must have switched to eating insects. And let the bone structure of very early mammals be very similar to that of today’s insects.

Read more about research here: A new study reveals that starting small and simple was key to success in mammalian evolution.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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