New Mexico – A new fossil of a furry, plant-loving kind of beaver-like animal that lived just a few hundred thousand years after the mass extinction, was found in northwestern New Mexico’s lands.

The Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, originated some 100 million years before dinosaurs became extinct and went on to spread throughout what is now Asia and North America. Scientists from the University of Nebraska estimated they were around three feet long and stood out for having strange and complex teeth. Their incisors and molars were suited to their plants diet.

Kimbetopsalis simmonsae means, “Simmon’s cutting shears of Kimbeto Wash” in recognition of mammal paleontologist Nancy Simmons, the place where the fossils were found, and the snipping front teeth of the beast. Credit: Sarah Shelley

“It’s larger than almost all of the mammals that lived with the dinosaurs, and also had a plant-eating diet, which few if any dinosaur-living mammals had. It shows just how quickly mammals were evolving in that brave new world after the asteroid cleared out the dinosaurs,” said paleontologist Steve Brusatte of Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, as reported by the Sidney Morning Herald.

The discovery was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society on Monday were it suggested the beaver lived in a lush area of forests, rivers, streams and lakes as Earth’s ecosystems began to recover from the catastrophe that ended the Cretaceous Period and opened the Paleocene Epoch.

The Appropriate Environment

Steve Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh, who took part in the research on the fossil, agreed to CBS News, that their varied diet helped them survive what many scientists refer as the “apocalyptic environmental changes” that led to extinction.

“It’s hard to know exactly why, but it seems like mammals that were small and had more generalist diets were better able to endure the apocalypse caused by the asteroid impact,” he told CBS News. The species finally died out some 35 million years ago and was replaced by emerging rodents.

Source: CBS News