Man's common ancestor with other mammals: A rat?

Chris Gayomali
The Week
This little fur ball is your long-lost ancestor.

Say hi to your, great, great, great, great... grand-something

What do humans, elephants, bats, dogs, cats, and whales all have in common? Apparently, this little thing.

Yep. Scientists have zeroed in on a tiny, rat-sized animal that they believe to be the common ancestor of many of today's modern mammals — including us. This furry little critter lived 66 million years ago, scurrying under the feet of big 'ol dinosaurs and subsisting primarily on a diet of insects.

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For a long time, scientists have been hunting for "a common genealogical link" between man and beast, and the Protungulatum donna is it, according to The New York Times. The Cretaceous-age animal was first discovered in the Gobi Desert in 1994. In a new study, researchers have identified that several of its anatomical characteristics made it a ripe candidate for humankind's common ancestor with other mammals because it live-birthed its young, and nourished them in utero through a placenta, just like humans, whales, and other aforementioned animals. 

In any case, say hi to your great, great, great, great, great... grand-something. Careful. She bites. (Via the New York Times)

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