Stranger Fruit

Sound production in Thyrohyrax

From Duke University:

Paleontologists at the Duke Lemur Center have assembled a new picture of a 35-million-year-old fossil mammal — and they even have added a hint of sound.

By painstakingly measuring hundreds of specimens of a fossil mammal called Thyrohyrax, recovered from the famous fossil beds of Egypt’s Fayum Province, the researchers determined that males of this now-extinct species — and only males — had oversized, swollen lower jaws shaped much like a banana. Further, the team speculated, the animals may have used the balloonlike structural chamber that shaped their bizarre jaws to produce sound.

If this speculation is correct, Thyrohyrax and its fossil relatives would be the only mammals found so far to use such a skeletal structure for producing sound, the researchers said. They added that some dinosaurs are thought to have used similar sound-producing mechanisms.

Read more here. My favorite quote from the press release comes from Elwyn Simons, one of the co-authors: “Hyraxes today are improbably cute-looking mammals that are about the size of rabbits, look much like guinea pigs and have a penchant for sunbathing.” Improbable cuteness looks like …

i-98db5e67f92f6b93b695f2ebff30cec8-dassie_rock-hyrax.jpg

Yup, cute … unless they are demonically posessed.

Comments

  1. #1 Josh
    April 27, 2006

    Pictures of the skull at Thoughts from Kansas.

  2. #2 Bruce Thompson
    April 27, 2006

    unless they are demonically possessed.

    That would explain why they are extinct, they weren’t allowed on the big boat.

    The link didn’t work for me but this one looks possessed and the dentition is visible.
    http://www.treknature.com/gallery/Middle_East/Israel/photo4989.htm