Evolution gave this ancient beast a weird face because it kept ramming into stuff

Evolution gave this ancient beast a weird face because it kept ramming into stuff

Moschops capensis was a weird looking animal. When it roamed the Earth some 260 million years ago its goofy stance and wide body would have caught your eye from a distance, and that's even before you noticed its almost comical face. Scientists have been working hard to determine why its tiny brain was protected by such a thick, flat, elongated skull, and new research seems to point to the answer: Maschops capensis really, really loved slamming its head into stuff.

The prehistoric mammal, whose fossils have been discovered in both South Africa and Russia, was the subject of a new research effort led by Julien Benoit of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Using fossils found over a century ago, the scientists used modern scanning technology to get a better look inside the ancient creature's fossilized skull. What they discovered was an incredibly thick cranial roof, which the team believes is the result of evolution catering to the animal's penchant for head-butting.

"This natural helmet could reach up to 15 centimetres of massive bone, the equivalent of a tank armour," Benoit writes in The Conversation. "Our hypothesis is that the helmet was protecting the brain and sense organs against the brutal shocks of direct head-to-head combat between males to find mates and to defend territory."

The result of that evolutionary progress was an animal with a firm stance, goofy face, and a skull built for hitting things. It wouldn't have been a pleasant creature to run into if you happened to be roaming around South Africa hundreds of millions of years ago, but it might have been worth a chuckle.


Related Posts

  • Elephant All-Nighters? Giant Beasts Sleep Only 2 Hours4 March, 2017 Elephant All-Nighters? Giant Beasts Sleep Only 2 Hours A sample size of two is small, but if the two matriarchs are representative of their species, African elephants may be the shortest-sleeping mammals on Earth, the researchers said. "Elephants really don't sleep all that much, and this appears to be related to their large size," said […]
  • Morocco fossils push back the timeline on human origins7 June, 2017 Morocco fossils push back the timeline on human origins Fossilized remains found in Morocco might belong to our 300,000-year-old ancestors. The skulls and bones could represent the earliest known fossils of Homo sapiens, the human species to which we all belong, scientists said in two new studies published Wednesday. If true, the findings […]
  • Crocodile rock: ancient beast named after Motörhead band's Lemmy9 August, 2017 Crocodile rock: ancient beast named after Motörhead band's Lemmy By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A ferocious sea-going crocodile that menaced coastal waters about 164 million years ago during the Jurassic Period has been given a name honoring the similarly ferocious heavy-metal rocker Lemmy, the late front man for the British band […]
  • Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa, possible Mugabe successor, hospitalised in South Africa14 August, 2017 Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa, possible Mugabe successor, hospitalised in South Africa Zimbabwe's Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a possible successor to 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, is recovering in a South African hospital after he fell ill and was airlifted from Zimbabwe. "He is not back yet from hospital in Johannesburg,"...
  • The U.S. Air Force's 'Ultimate Battle Plane' Is Nearly Ready for Combat23 September, 2017 The U.S. Air Force's 'Ultimate Battle Plane' Is Nearly Ready for Combat The AC-130J Ghostrider is a beast. The AC-130J Ghostrider, the next-generation gunship the Air Force once dubbed its “ultimate battle plane” and “a bomb truck with guns,” will be ready to rain hellfire down on unsuspecting enemies by the end of September, the […]

Leave a Reply

Read the original at Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines.