Ancient Wildebeest Was Similar to Dinosaurs

An artist's interpretation of Rusingoryx atopocranion on the Late Pleistocene plains of what is now Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, in Africa. (PHOTO CREDIT: Todd S. Marshall)
An artist’s interpretation of Rusingoryx atopocranion on the Late Pleistocene plains of what is now Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, in Africa. (PHOTO CREDIT: Todd S. Marshall)

A wildebeest-like animal that lived in Kenya some 75,000 years ago had one surprising similarity with dinosaurs that lived millions of years earlier. Rusingoryx atopocranion, described in a paper published Thursday in Current Biology, seems to have had the honker of a hadrosaur.

“The nasal dome is a completely new structure for mammals — it doesn’t look like anything you could see in an animal that’s alive today,” study author Haley O’Brien of Ohio University said in a statement. “The closest example would be hadrosaur dinosaurs with half-circle shaped crests that enclose the nasal passages themselves.”

The researchers instantly noticed a superficial similarity between crescent-shaped protrusions seen on the newly found skulls and those seen on duck-billed dinosaurs. But they were shocked when they found that the internal bone structure was hollow — just like a hadrosaur’s.

Rusingoryx atopocranion, a mammal, certainly isn’t related to any dinosaurs (at least not more than the average vertebrate, anyway).

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Rachel Feltman