(After a fictional character).
Named By: Guillermo W. Rougier, Sebastián Apesteguía & Leandro C. Gaetano - 2011.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Dryolestoidea, Meridiolestida.
Species: C. dentiacutus (type).
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).
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
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.
- Highly specialized mammalian skulls from the Late Cretaceous of South America. - Nature 479:98-102. - G. W. Rougier, S. Apesteguía & L. C. Gaetano - 2011.