The Tiki Formation in Madhya Pradesh, a treasure trove of vertebrate fossils, has now yielded a new species and two genera of cynodonts, small rat-like animals that lived about 220 million years ago.
What is Tiki Formation ?
- The researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur had found a new species, and they named it Rewaconodon indicus, indicating India, the country it was discovered from.
- The team also identified two new genera from the area.
- The first was named Inditherium floris,after India and the Latin word therium meaning beast. As the teeth had a flower-shaped crown, it earned the species name
- The second was named Tikiodon cromptoni,after Tiki Formation and Greek word odon meaning tooth. The species name is after paleontologist A.W. Crompton.
Cynodonts: Evolutionary Link
- Cynodonts are important in evolutionary studies as this group ultimately gave rise to the present-day mammals.
- By studying their molar and premolar teeth, we see how they slowly evolved and modified.
- Their crown shape shows that these animals are actually intermediate forms that are very near to the mammalian line of evolution.
- Cynodonts and living mammals both belong to a group of egg-laying vertebrates (amniotes) called synapsids.
- The close relationship of cynodonts with living mammals is seen in their bones.
- They also have differentiated teeth (for example, different teeth in the front of mouths compared with the back), a secondary palate in their mouths, which, like humans, allowed them to breathe and eat at the same time.
- Some cynodonts show evidence for the inferred presence of whiskers and fur.
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