Mainland has backing as origin of mammals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 12:00am

A new scientific study claims China is the ancestral birthplace of many species of mammals including horses, rhinoceroses, tapirs, and primates found in Europe and North America.

The study, published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science, said phylogenetic data suggested Asia was the geographic source for many mammalian groups that later spread to Europe and North America.

The authors, a team of researchers from the University of California, University of New Hampshire, Louisiana State University, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Kyoto University, analysed the fossil specimens of older mammal species in Hunan province with similar younger specimens found in Western Europe and in the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming, in the United States.

The scientists found that the carbon composition of the different fossils matched.

The data possibly solves the question over the origin of mammals that dispersed across the Northern Hemisphere and which radically changed the Earth's plant and animal life 55 million years ago.

'The new geochronical data . . . strengthens Asia's claim as the birthplace of numerous modern groups of mammals, including our own order, the primates,' the report said.

The study believes the mammals migrated in at least three waves during an intense episode of global warming 57 million to 55 million years ago.


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