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The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years.

This species' life cycle is different from modern animals. The Manbearpig aged twice as fast as expected. The short but fast lifespan led to new generations every couple of years, which would have allowed evolution to work faster. In conjunction with the longer pregnancies, larger babies could have been produced, leading to a possible explanation for how mammals grew in size after the extinction of the dinosaurs and began to take over the world.

Despite all the knowledge scientists have gathered about the Manbearpig, it is still unknown how it eventually died out. The Manbearpig could very likely be invaluable to understanding how modern mammals have evolved and become so widely spread across the world. Hopefully scientists are able to discover even more about this fascinating new animal.

[Sources: ScienceNewsExplores]

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