China used to be inhabited 165 million years ago by a primitive mammal that is similar to a shrew. According to scientists, this creature is seen as a milestone in mammalian evolution because it was the first to use “polite” eating manners, and that can be observed.
Meet Microdocodon Gracilis, an ancient mammal that inhabited China during the Jurassic Era
The Microdocodon Gracilis is the mammal we mentioned above, and it is described by scientists as an exquisitely preserved Jurassic Period fossil from Inner Mongolia. This creature is a furry critter with a long tail, is lightly built, is 5 inches or 14 cm long and eats insects with its dweller. It could be found in a warm lakeshore environment just as flying reptiles called pterosaurs and feathered dinosaurs.
Before the Microdocodon Gracilis appeared, reptiles, predecessors to the mammalian lineage, amphibians and other such land vertebrates used to swallow their prey whole and gulp large chunks of food similar to the way crocodiles eat today. These creatures would rely on gravity to feed themselves and jaw strength. The throat of the Microdocodon allowed this critter to swallow using its muscle power, offering its eating method finesse.
This ancient mammal of 165 million years ago used to eat like modern mammals
Modern mammals have hyoid bones in their throat aligned in a certain way, and the first creature to have this too is the Microdocodon Gracilis. The pharynx, or the back of the mouth, is connected by the delicate hyoids to the openings of the tube that makes a connection between the stomach, the throat, and the larynx, this being the esophagus.
This way lungs are provided air through a special passage. The hyoids of the Microdocodon Gracilis were arranged in a “U” shape compared to its evolutionary predecessors that had them in a sturdy rod-like configuration. This way, this critter did no longer need to rely on gravity to feed itself.