The “Thunder beast” fossils, also known as Brontotheres, are an extinct group of large herbivorous mammals that lived in North America during the Eocene epoch, around 56 to 33.9 million years ago.
New research on these fossils is shedding light on how some mammals might have evolved to be so large. The study report was published in the May 12 Science.
Brontotheres (Thunder beast) were massive creatures, with some species reaching up to 15 feet in length and weighing as much as five tons. They were known for their large, horned skulls and powerful jaws, which were used to graze on tough vegetation.
The new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, analyzed the bones of brontotheres (Thunder beast) and compared them to those of living mammals to understand how they were able to grow so large.
The researchers found that brontotheres had a unique pattern of bone growth, with their long bones growing rapidly in length while remaining relatively thin. This allowed them to support their large bodies while still being able to move quickly.
“It’s a more complex evolutionary world than what pure Darwinism would tell us. It’s not this organized, predictable world where progress is a thing in nature and the better adapted always ended up surviving,” said paleobiologist Juan Cantalapiedra of the University of Alcalá in Madrid.
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The larger species had many advantages over the smaller ones, for instance, growing above the predators may have had given them a chance to evade from ending on their menu, larger bodies mean larger brains.
The researchers also found that brontotheres(Thunder Beast) had a different pattern of bone density compared to modern mammals. While most mammals have a high bone density in their limbs, which helps support their weight, brontotheres(Thunder Beast) had a relatively low bone density in their limbs. This suggests that they relied on their muscles and ligaments to support their weight, rather than their bones.
These findings have important implications for our understanding of how some mammals were able to evolve to be so large. The researchers suggest that the unique bone growth pattern and low bone density of brontotheres(Thunder Beast) allowed them to achieve a balance between size and agility, enabling them to thrive in their environment.
The study also has broader implications for our understanding of the evolution of mammals as a whole. By studying the fossils of extinct species, we can learn more about the mechanisms that underlie evolutionary changes in living organisms.
In conclusion, the “Thunder beast” fossils of Brontotheres are providing valuable insights into how some mammals might have evolved to be so large. The unique bone growth pattern and low bone density of these creatures allowed them to achieve a balance between size and agility, enabling them to thrive in their environment.
This research has broader implications for our understanding of the evolution of mammals and highlights the importance of studying the fossils of extinct species to learn more about the mechanisms that underlie evolutionary changes.