We are thrilled to share that Dr. John Wible, Curator of Mammals, was part of the team that discovered a new mammal fossil, Ambolestes zhoui, which sheds new light on how placental mammals evolved. The 126-million-year-old fossil was found in Inner Mongolia by splitting rocks. The specimen was cleaved in two halves, but nearly every bone was preserved in the fossil.
The skeleton is about ten inches long, making it slightly larger than a chipmunk and slightly smaller than a gray squirrel. Its fingers are long, suggesting it could climb easily. And its teeth are ideal for eating insects.
This illustration by Paul Bowden shows what Ambolestes zhoui may have looked like based on the recently discovered fossil skeleton. Ambolestes zhoui is pictured in a gingko tree about to eat a cicada, both the gingko tree and cicada were found in the same fossil formation as Ambolestes zhoui.