Fossils

“Scarface”: The Dachshund-sized Pre-mammal with a (Possibly) Venomous Bite

Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, huge volcanic eruptions triggered a mass extinction bigger than the one that ended the dinosaurs, changing life on earth forever. Field Museum scientist Ken Angielczyk and his colleagues are now studying this event, the Permian-Triassic Extinction, to learn about how communities bounce back after falling apart. And one newly discovered ancient mammal relative is helping them get closer to their answers—meet “Scarface.”

Monsters Storm The Field

Invertebrate paleontologists aren’t afraid of anything, so when Collections Manager Paul Mayer was offered a chance to add hundreds of monsters to The Field’s collections, he jumped at the opportunity. The monsters in question, Tully monsters, are just a small part of the enormous donation of Thomas V. Testa’s collection of Mazon Creek fossils that The Field Museum just received from Field Associate Jack Wittry.  

An Early Nocturnal Ancestor

A majority of living mammals today are nocturnal—and conventional wisdom tells us that this transition to nocturnality occurred as mammals evolved from their early mammal ancestors, synapsids, about 200 million years ago. It’s largely assumed that those synapsids were diurnal—active mostly during the daytime—but The Field Museum’s Kenneth Angielczyk, Associate Curator of Paleomammalogy and co-author Lars Schmitz, Assistant Professor of Biology, Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges, wanted to put it to the test.

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