Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, a herbivorous mammal, thrived after the asteroid collision killed the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.
An asteroid slammed into in Earth near Mexico, which also triggered volcanic eruptions in India, and both of these events combined wiped out about 75 percent of all the animal species, dinosaurs included.
However, pretty soon after the asteroid impact, the Kimbetopsalis simmonsae was thriving again. This only goes to show that mammals, which were once a minority in the animal kingdom, were strong enough to survive the catastrophe and become the predominant land species on Earth.
Researchers found the fossil of the Kimbetopsalis simmonsae in New Mexico. The creature resembles some type of rodent with beaver-like teeth. Kimbetopsalis was about three feet (one metre) long, had big molar teeth, and was covered in fur.
During the time when the Earth’s ecosystems started recovering, as the Cretaceous Period ended and the Paleocene Epoch began, the Kimbetopsalis simmonsae lived in forests, along rivers, and lakes.
When asked about how someone would describe the Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, Thomas Williamson, a curator of palaeontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science stated that: “They would probably think something like, ‘Hey, look at that little beaver! Why doesn’t it have a flat tail?”
According to Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, the Kimbetopsalis simmonsae was bigger compared with most mammals that cohabited the Earth with the dinosaurs, and it was also a herbivorous mammal, unlike the mammals in the dinosaur era, which were predominantly carnivorous.
In a world without dinosaurs, the mammals took advantage of the situation, and populated the Earth, stated Brusatte. They were evolving quickly in order to adapt to the new conditions.
Kimbetopsalis simmonsae went extinct about 35 million years ago. It was part of the multituberculates mammalian group that actually managed to survive for approximately 120 million years.
Williamson believes that the mammals that survived the catastrophe were simply lucky. Unlike the dinosaurs, the mammals were quite small at that time, and because of their small size, they were probably able to hide in burrows and feed off of bugs after the asteroid impact.
Image Source: ibtimes