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Fossil Skull Reveals Monster Mammal From Madagascar

/ Source: Associated Press
An artist's conception shows the groundhog-like mammal known as Vintana sertichi within the context of the tidal environment and fauna of the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.
An artist's conception shows the groundhog-like mammal known as Vintana sertichi within the context of the tidal environment and fauna of the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.Luci Betti-Nash

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During the dinosaur age, most mammals were puny, generally weighing less than a pound. Now a bizarre fossil skull from Madagascar has revealed a comparative giant, one that clocked in at maybe 20 pounds. "It was a monster," said David Krause of Stony Brook University in New York, who led the discovery team. "It looks like a big groundhog."

It's the second heaviest mammal known from the dinosaur era, and the most massive of that time from Southern Hemisphere. Krause said his best guess is that the creature might have measured 20 inches to 24 inches from nose to rump. It lived sometime between 66 million and 72 million years ago. In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature, Krause and colleagues named the creature Vintana sertichi. "It would have been a very fine hors d'oeuvre" for a dinosaur, Krause said.

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