A New Discovery of Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Center: “Qatranimys Safroutus”, A New Rodent that lived in Egypt about 34 Million Years Ago.

A New Discovery of Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Center: “Qatranimys Safroutus”,

Scholars have discovered a new and small type of rodents that lived in the Egyptian forests about 34 million years ago, the size of its head is like a fingertip and its weight does not exceed 45 grams.Faiyum Depression in Egypt is considered the most important among the sites of African deserts, in terms of the production of vertebrate fossils, especially mammals, from the Paleogene period (the period from 66 to 23 million years ago). In that period, specifically 34 million years ago, Faiyum Desert was not that land we know today; it was tropical rainforests similar to those we see in Indonesia and Malaysia.Within a low range today, the area of ​​Jabal Qatrani is located in this arid desert north of Lake Qarun in Fayoum, which is characterized by a group of colorful mountains, as if it were a highly creative painting, in whose sands and mountains lie the hidden and secrets of ancient lives. About 34 million years ago, the Qatari Desert was vibrant with all kinds of tropical life: overflowing rivers, streams and swamps, giant trees with birds flying on their branches and monkeys leaping on them, tropical forests teeming with reptiles and various mammals.Day after day, the sands of Fayoum reveal the secrets of the lives of the distant past. A research team in an international cooperation between Mansoura University, and (The American University in Cairo, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Duke University and Salford University) was able to discover a new type of rodent that lived in Fayoum 34 million years ago and had no parallel before. The study was published today in the well-known journal PeerJ.Prof. Hisham Salam, a Vertebrate Paleontologist at the American University and Mansoura University and the leader of the research team, says: "We were able to study two skulls and a large set of mandibles, but it wasn't easy enough. The specimens are very small, very thin and adhered to the solid rocky clay, which made preparing the specimens for study very difficult, so we had to make accurate CT scans to be able to study them in a three-dimensional image.” Dr. Shorouk Al-Ashqar, the researcher among the Salam Lab team and main author of the study says: "The samples showed clear differences in the morphological characteristics of the upper and lower teeth, and by comparing it with the discovered rodents from the African continent, we can confirm that it is a new genus and species that has not been discovered before". She adds, “in this study, we did not discover only a new genus and species, but we were able to record the first bones of the skull of phycocytomines (the large group to which the new discovery belongs).”The scientists recorded their new discovery entitled “Qatranimys Safroutus)”. “Qatrani” is related to the area of ​​Jabal Qatrani discovered, from which the samples were discovered. “Mys” means mouse in Latin, while “Safroutus” is taken from the Egyptian colloquial language which means small in size. Salam says: “The length of the molar of Safroutus did not exceed one millimeter, and its skull was about one and a half centimeters long, and its weight did not exceed 45 grams. Thus, we chose to name it Safroutus due to its apparent small size, in addition to our pride of having Egyptian roots”.




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