Something I made for Sieppo, the children's magazine of Finnish Nature League.Kayentatherium
was a rather large (around the size of a large beaver) tritylodont, or a non-mammalian synapsid. Living in Early Jurassic, it coexisted with dinosaurs such as Dilophosaurus
. Last year, a report of a wonderful fossil specimen shed light to the breeding habits of this long-gone animal. A stone block, which was supposed to contain the bones of a single adult Kayentatherium
, turned out to be full of tiny teeth and bones. Babies!
Altogether, there were at least 38 baby Kayentatheriums
, each tiny compared to the adult, but already well-formed and seemingly ready to face the world. They did not have the underdeveloped, baby-like features of most modern baby mammals, but were almost like miniature copies of their parents. Researchers suggested they died just after hatching from eggs, or just before they would have hatched. So, I depicted the moment of hatching within a stylized nest burrow lined with twigs and leaves.
This find shows that at least this particular species of tritylodont still retained a rather reptile-like reproductive habit, laying lots of eggs with small but precocious young. Still, as in many reptiles and amphibians, a parent guarded the egg until hatching. It's unknown whether the adult was a mother or a father, or if it would have still cared for the young for some time after hatching, hadn't they all died.
Press release for the study: news.utexas.edu/2018/08/29/mam…
Original paper: www.nature.com/articles/s41586…