Early mammals lived alongside the dinosaurs during the Mesozoic era (252-66 million years ago). They were once thought to be exclusively small nocturnal insect-eaters, but fossil discoveries of the past decade – particularly from China and South America – have shown that they developed diverse adaptations for feeding and locomotion, including gliding, digging, and swimming. To find out when and how rapidly these new body shapes emerged a team led by Oxford University researchers did the first large-scale analysis of skeletal and dental changes in Mesozoic mammals. By calculating evolutionary rates across the entire Mesozoic, they show that mammals underwent a rapid ‘burst’ of evolutionary change that reached its peak around the middle of the Jurassic (200-145 million years ago). The team comprised researchers from Oxford University in the UK and Macquarie University in Australia. A report of the research is published in Curre

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