Fossils

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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