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Temporal range: Middle Jurassic
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Agilodocodon scansorius

Agilodocodon was a shrew-sized docodont from the Middle Jurassic. It is the earliest known tree-climbing mammal-like therapsid.[1][2][3]

Agilodocodon scansorius was about 13 centimeters from head to tail, and weighed about 27 grams.[3] Its appearance was similar to a squirrel, with a long snout, curved, horny claws and flexible ankle and wrist joints typical of modern arboreal mammals.[3] The front teeth were spade-like, indicating that Agilodocodon scansorius could gnaw tree bark and eat gum or sap.[3]

This interpretation is questioned by another palaeontologist. He thinks Agilodocodon's teeth "are quite different" from the modern sap-eating monkeys, and the long, thin lower jaw seems too weak for gnawing tree bark.[3]

Discovery[change | change source]

The fossils of Agilodocodon scansorius, with the mole-like Docofossor brachydactylus, were found by farmers in the Chinese Tiaojishan Formation. They were got and examined by the Beijing Museum of Natural History. The species Agilodocodon scansorius was reported in the journal Science in 2015.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Therapsida includes mammals and some extinct relatives like the docodonts.
  2. Douglass, Michelle 2015. Discoveries of tree-dwelling and subterranean beats suggest earliest mammals' incredible diversity. BBC Earth. [1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Michael Balter (2015). "Found: two sophisticated mammals that thrived during the age of the dinosaurs". Science. Retrieved 13 Feb 2015.
  4. Qing-Jin Meng; et al. (2015). "An arboreal docodont from the Jurassic and mammaliaform ecological diversification". Science. 347 (6223): 764–768. doi:10.1126/science.1260879. Retrieved 13 Feb 2015.