Monday 13 November 2017

PrehiScotInktoberfest Day 13: Hoots Mon Erra Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose

PrehiScotInktoberfest 13 returns to the Jurassic, but rather than feature immense dinosaurs or grand sea creatures, we delve into the undergrowth - in this case, the forests of what is now the Isle of Skye.

On the left is the mighty Wareolestes rex ("Ware's Brigand King"), so named for its status as undisputed Master of Mammaliforms in Scotland by virtue of its size. Where most of Rexy's contemporaries were the sizes of rats or mice, Wareolestes towered over them - the size of a guinea pig, or a West Highland Haggis. Wareolestes was a Morganucodont, the direct ancestors of modern crown mammals - evidence of tooth replacement suggests it may even have produced milk for its young, a decidedly Mammalian trait.

Peeking from atop a fallen branch is Borealestes serendipitus ("Northern Brigand Serendipity"), a member of the Tritylodontidae family - the last of the cynodonts, the group between paramammals like Dimetrodon & other mammaliforms. While only fragments of jaw & tooth remain of Bory, comparisons to family members suggest it could have been a nocturnal hunter.

Finally we have Krusatodon kirtlingtonensis ("Krusat's Tooth from Kirtlington"), a Docodont, who were also closely related to modern mammals. Krusatodon was originally discovered in, well, Kirtlington, which you might know is in Oxfordshire rather than Scotland - which means that some of the beasties found in the cradle of British Palaeontological Discovery may have visited or even lived in Scotland, and vice versa. Although most Docodonts were ground-dwelling insectivores, there is evidence some of them could have been burrowers or semi-aquatic, like modern golden moles or water voles: since Skye was a coastal wetland during the Jurassic, it seems likely Krusatodon was an ancient spiritual ancestor of Scotland's furry water-dwellers.

"Whit'ye think's doon err, Rexy?"

"Dinnae ken, Bory, Mebbe treisur!"

"It isnae treisur, youse. It's never treisur."

"Wheesht, Krusty, awa' an back tae yer skiddlin'."

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