125-million-year-old rodent fossil dug up in Spanish quarry

Creature´s internal organs preserved in landmark find

LAST UPDATED: 16 Oct, 2015 @ 15:34

A 125-million-year-old fossil of a rodent-like mammal has been found in Spain.

The furry critter´s internal organs and remains were perfectly preserved when it was unearthed in Las Hoyas Quarry in central Spain.

PRESERVED: Ancient rodent unearthed in Spain
PRESERVED: Ancient rodent unearthed in Spain

Described as ´spectacular´when its discovery was announced in Nature journal, the creature is known as Spinolestes xenarthrosus.

“It is stunning to see almost perfectly preserved skin and hair structures fossilized in microscopic detail in such an old fossil,” said University of Chicago expert Dr Zhe-Xi Luo.

“This Cretaceous furball displays the entire structural diversity of modern mammalian skin and hairs.”

Its liver, lungs, fur,spine and tail were all preserved and the mammal had developed defensive spikes to ward off attackers.

It is believed to have weighed 50-70 pounds and to have been between the size of a rat and a mouse.

“Normally you find bones and you find skeletons – and there are many, many fossil mammal skeletons found, but never these soft parts in such great detail,” said Professor Thomas Martin, from the University of Bonn.

“It is very cute.”

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