Jurassic animal found on Skye ‘fed milk to young’
Palaeontologists believe an animal that lived in what is now Skye 165 million years ago fed milk to its young.
Milk teeth have been discovered in the fossil jaw of a juvenile Wareolestes rex, a species of mammal from the Middle Jurassic.
Scientists suggest adult females secreted milk on to a bare patch of skin for their young to lap up.
Nipples and suckling as seen in modern mammals had still to evolve whenWareolestes rex lived.
The two centimetre-long jaw was found on Skye in 2015 and is one of the most complete fossils of the early mammal to be found outside of China.
Single teeth of Wareolestes rex have previously been found in England.
She added: “Wareolestes would have cared for its young, which is a behaviour we associate with modern mammals.”
Living in a period when dinosaurs were the dominant animal, Wareolestes rex were a large mammal for the time, with adults growing to the size of a guinea pig.
The method of Wareolestes rex delivery of milk to its young is similar to that of platypus.
During the Middle Jurassic, Skye was covered in lagoons and filled with turtles, crocodiles, pterosaurs and dinosaurs.
Mainland Scotland was an island surrounded by a semi-tropical sea filled with marine reptiles and ammonites.