The study was led by graduate student David Grossnickle and published in Scientific Reports. According to the report, mammal teeth, muscles, and jaw bones evolved to be able to perform a side-to-side motion that allowed early mammals to chew food with their molars. This cow-like chewing capacity, in turn, allowed for a much more diverse diet that allowed mammals to survive the mass extinction event that occurred 66 million years ago.
“If you have a very specialized diet you’re more likely to perish during a mass extinction because you’re only eating one thing,” said Grossnickle. “But if you can eat just about anything and 90 percent of your food goes away, you can still live on scraps.”
By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer
Source: University of Chicago