ancestors dogs cats look like

Nature How did the Ancestors of Dogs and Cats Look Like?

Published on January 8th, 2014

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How did the Ancestors of Dogs and Cats Look Like?

Cats and domestic dogs and other carnivorous mammals as seals, lions and bears, all descended from a common group of ancient mammals, whose origin is still unclear. Recently, however, a Belgian researchers found fossils of one of these animals living in the forest 55 million years ago.

Vestiges of the new species, named Dormaalocyon Latouri (after Dormaal, a Belgian village where the fossils were discovered), including teeth and bones of the ankle, which allowed the reconstruction of the approximate appearance of this ancestor of carnivores.

Dormaalocyon Latouri was a small tree mammal, weighing about 1 kg, and fed on insects and other small mammals.

Show, it is believed that it looked like a combination of a small panther and a squirrel with a long tail and a snout like a cat.

Scientists have discovered one of the earliest ancestors of all modern carnivores in Belgium. Dormaalocyon latouri was a 1kg (2lb) tree-dweller that is thought to have fed on even smaller mammals and insects

Modern carnivores descended from ancient group called carnivoraformes, who lived in the Paleocene (66-55 million years ago) and Eocene (56-33900000 years ago). Paleontologists from the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels examined more fossils dating from the early Eocene. They were collected from soil around the village Dormaal nearly 14,000 fossil teeth belonging to 40 species of ancient mammals.

280 of these teeth, dating from an early period and having a very primitive structure, indicates that the species to which they belonged, Dormaalocyon lies in evolutionary terms, almost to the point of origin of carnivoraforms, indicating they also originate in Europe.

The ankle bone structure also shows that Dormaalocyon was a climbing mammal, the environment in his life time was a wet forests.

The studies confirm previous research that suggested that carnivorous mammals appeared in the Paleocene, before Dormaalocyon.

The description of this species contributes to understanding how early mammals evolved after the extinction of large dinosaurs.

This is a hypothetical family tree of carniovrous mammals showing the placement of Dormaalcyon within the carnivoraformes, and the relationship of carnivoraformes to modern groups, divided into feliforms (cat-like carnivores) and caniforms (dog-like carnivores)

Carnivoraformes were already very diversified in early Eocene, which allowed researchers to formulate the hypothesis that they were already diversified to a certain extent, since the late Paleocene. If so, then there are still many fossils waiting to be discovered, which could explain the origin of dogs and cats today.

Source: Mail Online / PHOTO: Charlène Letenneur (MNHN) & Pascale Golinvaux (RBINS)

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