Scientists have recently discovered that a wildebeest cousin resembles dinosaurs.
A team of researchers found fossils of a specimen called Rusingoryx. It is believed that the creature is the ancient cousin of a modern-day wildebeest. According to the scientists, its traits were very unusual for this species.
The specimen’s nose structure was very peculiar for a mammal. It had similar features with dinosaurs. Further analysis of the Rusingoryx fossils revealed that its protrusion was crescent-shaped. The animal’s nose seemed to share common traits with duckbilled dinosaurs, called hadrosaurus. Such a feature was never found on any ancient or present day mammals.
What’s more, the discovery location revealed other 24 Rusingoryx specimens. Findings showed signs of butchered bones as well as stone tools. This led the researchers to believe that the animals’ death was caused by humans.
Haley O’Brien, paleontologist at Ohio University declared that there is a possibility that the mammal might have generated low trumpeting sounds through this crest. She also added that the animal’s sounds enabled long-distance communication with its herd.
Moreover, the results showed that the creature’s habitat was in savannahs, particularly in Africa. Dating techniques proved that the fossils go back to almost 55,000-75,000 years ago. However, species of dinosaurs like hadrosaurus or lambeosaurus walked the Earth 75 million years ago, which make this discovery even more interesting.
The paleontologist also said that:
“we have an animal that its skeleton looks a lot like a wildebeest – it’s actually very closely related to modern wildebeests – but its face looks a lot more like something you would see if you went way back in time to the Cretaceous and looked at hadrosaur dinosaurs”.
Scientists also found that the crest on the skull’s top was empty inside and had a nasal structure. In addition, Rusingoryx’s nose was structred in such a way that the sounds it produced could not be heard by other species.
Researchers think that the animal’s crest evolved from earlier relatives of Rusingoryx. In Megalotragus, which existed before Rusingoryx, the nasal passage went up which enabled the facial bones to elongate. This process eventually formed a dome which resembles with lambeosaurus.
This led to the conclusion that the creature’s fossils are evidence of convergent evolution. This phenomenon happens when two distant species evolve with the same physical characteristics. This type of evolution usually occurs when different creatures face the same environmental pressures.
Rusingoryx and the hadrosaurus were both herbivores which lived in herds. Researchers said that the study of a wildebeest that resembles dinosaurs might bring into light other unknown information about these ancient creatures.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia