Fruitafossor

Name: Fruitafossor‭ (‬Fruita digger‭)‬.
Phonetic: Froo-tah-foss-sor.
Named By: Zhe-Xi Luo‭ & ‬John R.‭ ‬Wible‭ ‬-‭ ‬2005.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Incertae sedis.
Species: F.‭ ‬windscheffeli‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Insectivore.
Size: 15‭ ‬centimetres long.
Known locations: USA,‭ ‬Morrison Formation,‭ ‬Colorado,‭ ‬Fruita.
Time period: Kimmeridgian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Almost complete specimen.

       The discovery of Fruitafossor made many palaeontologists sit up and pay attention,‭ ‬because here was a digging mammal that existed one hundred million years before the previously known Cenozoic ancestors of today’s mammalian diggers.‭ ‬Although it appears that Fruitafossor was not related to any of today’s existing mammals,‭ ‬it employed its powerful forearms,‭ ‬which have earned it the nickname‭ '‬Popeye‭' ‬due to their oversized resemblance to the cartoon characters forearm,‭ ‬to dig for the termites that lived towards the end of the Jurassic.‭ ‬Not only could Fruitafossor have used its forearms and claws to break into termite nests,‭ ‬it has also been suggested that it could dig itself burrows for protection from hunters.‭
       The teeth of Fruitafossor are sharp and lack enamel suggesting that they were lost and replaced as they wore out.‭ ‬Animals that eat termites usually do not have to do any chewing,‭ ‬so enamel is not required to protect the teeth for this process.‭ ‬More importantly though,‭ ‬the same type of teeth are found in mammals that primarily feed on termites today,‭ ‬indicating that because Fruitafossor was not related to them,‭ ‬the evolutionary adaptations suited for eating termites happened more than once.
       The species name F.‭ ‬windscheffeli is in honour of Wally Windscheffeli,‭ ‬a Carnegie museum volunteer who discovered the Fruitafosser remains.

Further reading
- A Late Jurassic digging mammal and early mammalian diversification. - Science 308:103-107. - Z.-X. Luo & J. R. Wible - 2005.



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