UW News

Caroline Strömberg


April 30, 2019

Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals

Well-preserved fossils ― like this Yanoconodon allini (Specimen No.: NJU P06001; Formation: Yixian; Age: 122.2–124.6 million years ago; Provenance: China) ― enabled the team to infer ecology of these extinct mammal species and look at changes in mammal community structure during the last 165 million years.

A new study published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified three factors critical in the rise of mammal communities since they first emerged during the Age of Dinosaurs: the rise of flowering plants; the evolution of tribosphenic molars in mammals; and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, which reduced competition between mammals and other vertebrates in terrestrial ecosystems.


January 15, 2015

Tiny plant fossils a window into Earth’s landscape millions of years ago

An international team led by the University of Washington has discovered a way to determine the tree cover and density of trees, shrubs and bushes in locations over time based on clues in the cells of plant fossils preserved in rocks and soil.


March 4, 2013

‘True grit’ erodes assumptions about evolution

Large cliff of white ashy material surrounded by rock cliffs when two researchers working the face

New work in Argentina where scientists had previously thought Earth’s first grasslands emerged 38 million years ago, shows the area at the time covered with tropical forests rich with palms, bamboos and gingers. Grit and volcanic ash in those forests could have caused the evolution of teeth in horse-like animals that scientists mistakenly thought were adaptations in response to emerging grasslands.