Meet the REAL 'sabre-toothed squirrel' who lived among the dinosaurs


Exceptional discovery: An artist's impression of the prehistoric mammal that resembles a type of sabre-tooth squirrel that was found in Argentina. The fossil remains reveal previously unknown dental and cranial features

A bizarre pre-historic mammal that looked just like the fictional sabre-toothed squirrel in the Ice Age movies has been unearthed in South America.
The primitive mouse-sized creature lived among the dinosaurs up to 100million years ago and sported a snout, very long teeth and large eyes - just like popular animated character Scrat.
Its discovery in Argentina bridges a gap of about 60million years in the mammalian fossil record on the continent and provides an insight into a largely unexplored period.

It was a palaeontologist, Dr Guillermo Rougier, of Louisville University, Kentucky, who said the species - named Cronopio dentiacutus after its sharp teeth - bears a striking resemblance to Scrat

The animal, identified after skulls and jaws were dug up, was a dryolestoid - a group of extinct mammals that led to a large and diverse variety of animals including kangaroos, elephants and even humans.
They are known mainly from teeth and jaws found in the US and Europe, although they also thrived in South America where their lack of remains has made it hard to study their origin and early diversification.

Bizarre: The newly discovered species bears more than a passing resemblance to Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel from the Ice Age movies

Palaeontologist Dr Guillermo Rougier, of Louisville University, Kentucky, said the species - named Cronopio dentiacutus after its sharp teeth - bears a striking resemblance to Scrat in the Ice Age films.
The remains, described in the journal Nature, included two partial skulls and jaws showing previously unknown dental and cranial features such as single-rooted molars preceded by double-rooted pre-molars.

Ice Age tells the story of a human infant who is found by a group of animals that includes a woolly mammoth, a sabre-toothed tiger, and a pair of giant sloths and tries to reunite him with his parents

These were combined with a very long muzzle, exceedingly long teeth and evidence of highly specialised jaws. They were found in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro in Argentina.
Dr Rougier said: 'Dryolestoids are an extinct mammalian group belonging to the lineage leading to modern marsupials and placentals.'
In the Ice Age films, Scrat was intent on hiding his acorn and keeping it from predators and forms part of a mismatched gang of animals who take it on themselves to return a human infant to its tribe before the cold weather sets in.
Dr Christian de Muizon, of the National History Museum in Paris who reviewed the paper for the journal, said the fossils were 'remarkably complete'.
He said: 'Mammalian remains from the age of the dinosaurs - the Mesozoic era, from 250million years to 65million years ago - are rare.
'Ten times fewer mammalian genera have been identified from the Mesozoic than from the age of mammals that followed it - the Cenozoic era, from roughly 65.5million years ago to the present - even though the Cenozoic has lasted less than half the time.
'Furthermore, Mesozoic mammals are most often known from isolated teeth or partial jaws; complete skulls and/or skeletons are exceptional.'

source: dailymail