One of the biggest mammals of the dinosaur age that used to eat other dinosaurs
Repenomamus Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.
Repenomamus Conservation Status
- Small Dinosaurs, Insects
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- One of the biggest mammals of the dinosaur age that used to eat other dinosaurs
- Most Distinctive Feature
- Badger-sized mammal with pointy teeth
- Common Name
- Number Of Species
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The Repenomamus was discovered in the year 2000, and at that point was given its name, which translates roughly to reptile mammal.
Description and Size
Repenomamus is a genus of two species, namely Repenomamus robustus and Repenomamus giganticus. It was one of the biggest mammals in the Mesozoic era.
From the fossils that were found of this ancient mammal, the following attributes could be aggregated to describe its physical features:
- The size of the Repenomamus Robustus was around 3 feet long which is bigger than a mouse today, and it weighed around 8.8-13 pounds.
- The Repenomamus Giganticus was 50% larger about 3 ft long and weighed between 26-31 pounds.
- It had a strong jaw that held sharp and pointy teeth in the front for biting into the flesh, but it also had a few chewing teeth that aroused the suspicion that it may have been a predator more than a scavenger.
- The Repenomamus also had a few whiskers on its face. They were long, sensitive, and resembled the whiskers of a cat today.
- Resembling a badger or a large cat, it had a heavy body that was covered in a coat of fur. Its body was far bulkier and larger than its limbs.
- It also had a short tail that was covered in fur.
- It had two pairs of strong and short legs and walked on its broader feet like a badger. However, the plantigrade feet indicated that it sprawled and ran on the ground. Each foot had a bunch of claws as well.
Diet – What Did Repenomamus Eat?
Considering its fossils and sharp, pointy teeth, it is safe to assume that the Repenomamus was a carnivore. However, the scientists were divided as to whether the mammal was a predator or a scavenger.
The common idea was that this mammal ate small dinosaurs. Others believed that it also ate insects and various smaller creatures. But, an important fossil finding indicated its true diet.
The Repenomamus fossil was found with bones of another small dinosaur in its gut contents which itself was a plant-eater. This strongly supports the idea that it ate small dinosaurs. So, the theory it was a predator is more concrete than the chance it was a scavenger.
Most of the mammals at the time were considered scavengers. Various fossils of other dinosaurs had bite marks of the smaller mammals showing that the mammals lurked in the shadows and feasted on the dinosaur carcasses.
Habitat – When And Where Did It Live?
The Repenomamus existed roughly around 125 million years ago. It was found to have lived during the early Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era.
Studies suggest that the Repenomamus lived in shallow areas and lurked in the shadows, like a scavenger. It made its home in similar areas but did not stay much under the shadows. The fossil of this mammal was found in Northeastern China. This part of China is known to have been home to feathered dinosaurs. Now, whether it was a common ground for both of them is unknown.
Considering the diet of Repenomamus, it can be assumed that they hunted in packs. Because the Repenomamus was one of the first mammals to have been considered an animal that could possibly eat dinosaurs, it is believed that they were sociable and grouped together to hunt for their prey. Other mammals of the same era were mainly insectivorous. Most of the mammals during this time spent time in shallow areas, hiding from the dinosaurs. How did the Repenomamus become so ferocious in nature?
The existing theory suggests that Repenomamus was living in a different place than these other mammals. According to the fossils, Repenomamus lived amongst feathered dinosaurs. It did not have to hide because there were no larger predators scaring it away. Accordingly, its prey were small dinosaurs.
Threats And Predators
There are no known predators of the Repenomamus. But similar to other mammals, they were threatened by the nature and habitat of that era.
In the Cretaceous era, things like land fragmentation, hunting, habitat modification, land degradation, and deforestation were quite common. In addition, the Repenomamus was known to be a hunter of small dinosaurs. It was probably not living in shallow areas like other mammals who were insectivores. This leads us to believe that any bigger dinosaur may have been a threat to the Repenomamus along with natural disasters being the major one.
Discoveries and Fossils – Where It Was Found
The Repenomamus does not have many fossils around the world. The only thing known is that this genus has two known species and both of them were found in China. As discussed above, they are Repenomamus robustus and Repenomamus giganticus.
In 2000, the first fossil of Repenomamus was discovered in the Northeastern side of China, specifically in the Liaoning province. The Repenomamus robustus species was first discovered in the year 2000 and then later Repenomamus giganticus was found in the year 2005.
The fossil of the Repenomamus giganticus is one of the largest mammal fossils to have been found. However, the fossil of Repenomamus robustus provided some interesting insight, offering potential evidence that this mammal ate small dinosaurs because its skeleton was found with a skeleton of a baby dinosaur.
Extinction – When Did It Die Out?
The exact cause is unknown, but the basic assumption is that they died when a meteorite hit the Earth and wiped out three-fourths of the animal population during this era. Many ancient mammals were killed because of this.
Similar Animals to The Repenomamus
- Tasmanian Devil – The Repenomamus seems a lot like the modern animal of today, the Tasmanian Devil. It has a similar size, and body shape, and it even hunts like a scavenger. Its ferocious nature also somewhat takes the nature of the Repenomamus.
Repenomamus FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What was the largest mammal during the dinosaur eras?
Repenomamus robustus was the largest mammal to have existed in the era of dinosaurs.
Did any mammals eat dinosaurs?
Yes, the Repenomamus was the size of a large cat and was able to gobble up the small dinosaurs.
Did any large mammals live with dinosaurs?
Yes, there were many ancient mammals living with dinosaurs. Some of them even hunted the small dinosaurs and ate them.
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- Nature, Available here: https://www.nature.com/news/2005/050110/full/news050110-11.html
- New Dinosaurs, Available here: https://www.newdinosaurs.com/repenomamus/
- Dinopedia, Available here: https://dinopedia.fandom.com/wiki/Repenomamus
- NYTimes, Available here: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/science/when-dinosaurs-ruled-a-mammal-ate-a-little-one.html
- Smithsonian Mag, Available here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/fossil-site-reveals-how-mammals-thrived-after-death-of-dinosaurs-180973404/
- Academic, Available here: ttps://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/686299
- Pubmed, Available here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15650737/