Scientists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in Raleigh, USA, and the Vyatka Paleontological Museum, in Kirov, Russia, have presented the results of their study on the fossils belonging to two new Permian protomammals species, some ancient saber-toothed predators which walked on Earth in the Permian Period, about 252 million years ago, several million years before the first dinosaurs appeared.
During the Permian Period, the protomammals species, a part of the therapsids animals, included herbivores, insectivores, and saber-toothed predators like those studied by the researchers in a recent study, as reported Phys.org.
The majority of therapsids fossils have been unearthed in the Karoo Basin, in South Africa, and the studies on these remains helped scientists better comprehend the evolution of Permian protomammals.
New species of Permian protomammals ancient saber-toothed predators found in Russia
But, recently, the Vyatka Paleontological Museum’s researchers performed expeditions in the European part of Russia, near Kotelnich, a town situated near the shores of the Vyatka River. There, the scientists unearthed well-preserved ancient saber-toothed predators fossils that turned out to belong to new species of Permian protomammals.
The results of the study, carried out by the Russian researchers in cooperation with the American scientists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, were published in the PeerJ journal.
According to the study’s report, Gorynychus masyutinae, the first one of the two new Permian protomammals discovered, was as big as a wolf, while the second species, Nochnitsa geminidens, was slightly smaller and possessed very thin teeth, just like needles.
Gorynychus was part of a subgroup of protomammals known as therocephalians, while Nochnitsa was part of the gorgonopsians subgroup.
The ancient saber-toothed predators found in Russia enhance the scientists’ understanding about the Permian Period
During the mid-Permian, an extinction occurred according to scientists, but not much is known about that and about how did the animals such as protomammals evolve during and after the event.
While in Late Permian the predators were mostly big in size (as big as modern-day lions, for example) and ancient saber-toothed predators became insectivores, in the mid-Permian period, thus earlier, the Permian protomammals roles inverted.