Name: Cronopio ‭(‬After a fictional character‭)‬.
Phonetic: Cro-noe-pe-oh.
Named By: Guillermo W.‭ ‬Rougier,‭ ‬Sebastián Apesteguía‭ & ‬Leandro C.‭ ‬Gaetano‭ ‬-‭ ‬2011.‭
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Dryolestoidea,‭ ‬Meridiolestida.
Species: C.‭ ‬dentiacutus‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Insectivore.
Size: Uncertain due to incomplete remains,‭ ‬but estimated to be several centimetres long.
Known locations: Argentina‭ ‬-‭ ‬Candeleros Formation.
Time period: Cenomanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Two partial skulls and mandibles‭ (‬lower jaw bones‭)‬.

       This small mammal is most important for being the earliest known dryolestoid mammal from South America.‭ ‬However it is more famous for its unusual arrangement of teeth.‭ ‬Cronopio had very slender jaws and in the centre of the top jaw there were two enlarged canine teeth,‭ ‬something which has given rise to the nickname of‭ ‘‬sabre-toothed squirrel‭’‬.‭ ‬Another resemblance is to that of the cgi character Scrat in the Ice Age films.‭
       These enlarged canines as well as the jaws were quite gracile in form,‭ ‬and certainly not suited for strong biting.‭ ‬Instead the main food processing teeth were much smaller and suited for eating insects.‭ ‬It could be that the enlarged canine teeth had a special purpose,‭ ‬such as making it easier to disable a particulary dangerous species of insect,‭ ‬or combined with the narrow jaws to root into nooks and crevices.‭ ‬It is also possible the teeth may have been more for show rather than physical use.

Further reading
- Highly specialized mammalian skulls from the Late Cretaceous of South America. - Nature 479:98-102. - G. W. Rougier, S. Apesteguía & L. C. Gaetano - 2011.


Random favourites