New Fossil Find: Yanoconodon

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 16th, 2007

Yanoconodon allini

What was drinking from that creek bed in the neighborhood? This artist’s representation shows Yanoconodon allini, a 125-million-year-old mammal fossil found in China. The five inch long mammal is important for its significance in the origins of the inner ear. (Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation)

For more, see: Paleontologists Discover New Mammal From Mesozoic Era.

This fossil’s importance to cryptozoology is nil, but it does demonstrate the Chinese are hard at work discovering more fossils. Let’s hope they come up with a complete fossil subcranial skeleton of Gigantopithecus soon!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

15 Responses to “New Fossil Find: Yanoconodon”

  1. kittenz responds:

    I think that as more fossils turn up, we will find that mammals have been around a LOT longer than is generally thought.

    In my opinion the “mammal-like reptiles” of the late Permian and the Triassic should also be classified as mammalian. Of course, we do not know, nor will we probably ever know, if they were “mammals” in the strictest sense of the word: we cannot know if they fed their young with glandular secretions such as milk.

    I’ve been fascinated with the Synapsida for a long, long time. I believe that if we could look back in time and see them, we would be shocked at their appearance, because I think we would see mammalian traits such as furry bodies, ear pinnae, and rhinaria with whiskers, like other mammals have.

  2. Ceroill responds:

    kittenz, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I remember when it was an astounding revelation that some dinosaurs had feathers.

  3. skeptik responds:

    Let’s wait to see what John Hammond cooks up.

  4. kittenz responds:

    lol, skeptik

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Just goes to show you that fossils are far from finished with teaching us about the history of life on this world. I really feel there are going to be a lot more amazing fossil discoveries in the coming years, and I think some of these are going to challenge some established notions.

  6. U.T. Raptor responds:

    “In my opinion the “mammal-like reptiles” of the late Permian and the Triassic should also be classified as mammalian”
    Indeed they probably should. On the same note, I imagine dinosaurs should also be classified with the birds for essentially the same reasons…

  7. kittenz responds:

    U.T. Raptor, I agree, except that I think that birds and dinosaurs, along with crocodiles, should all be classed as archosaurs.

  8. sschaper responds:


  9. kittenz responds:

    Monotremes in my opinion are very primitive mammals. They do produce a kind of milk to feed their young.

  10. Arctodus responds:

    Kittenz, your comments are largely on the money. There already is evidence of leathery type skin on both a gorgonopsid and a thermocephalian from some permian fossils. It seems that synapsids and sauropsids (birds,reptiles) diverged from each other as soon as the first amniote crawled on land and laid shelled eggs, if not even earlier! The mammal-like reptile term is wrong, as mammals never evolved from reptiles or vice versa. It’s possible even ancient cold-blooded mammals like dimetrodon nursed their young, as this is a behavior known in some fishes and a type of amphibian known as a caecilian.

    There are two traits that certainly would shock us if we went back in time to say the Jurassic period. Every species of mammal at the time would probably have all the traits you listed, but they would also have two traits known only among modern-day monotremes. They would be egg-layers and every last one of them would look like furry sprawling salamanders.

    No one knows why warm-blooded mammals remained sprawlers for more than 140 million years (if you count the likely warm-blooded permian synapsids).

    It’s not until the eutherian (placental) eomaia and the metatherian (marsupial) sinodelphys that erect gaits evolve among mammals.

  11. mystery_man responds:

    Arctodus- Great info! Thank you for posting it.

  12. kittenz responds:


    Yes that’s a great post! I for one am not convinced that all of the early mammals (or mammal-like creatures) were sprawlers. Nor do I believe that they were all ectotherms. Individuals of some small species have been found in what appears to be a sleeping position with their very long tails curled around over their muzzles, much as modern mammals with furry tails sleep, and if they had fur it’s likely that at least some of them were endotherms. Their is other strong evidence that some of the synapsids not only had fur but had whiskers as well. Vibrissae are usually an indication that the animal is nocturnal at least part of the time. And most nocturnal animals are endothermic.

    We have had the image of synapsids as big, lumbering, mindless, cold-blooded lunks drummed into our heads for so long that it comes as something of a shock to think they may have been furry, active creatures somewhat like modern mammals. And if they were more like modern mammals than they were like “reptiles”, and they were wiped out by widespread climate change, that means that we could be too, despite our big brains and active metabolisms.
    The fossil record for synapsids is much more fragmentary than even that for dinosaurs. What has already been discovered and described is bound to be just the tip of the iceberg.

  13. Ceroill responds:

    Ok, here’s where I show how out of touch I am (blushing). When I was growing up the ‘mammal-like-reptiles’ were called Therapsids. Is this simply a renaming of the same class of creatures?

  14. Arctodus responds:


    Therapsids are one of the two great clades within Synapsida. The other clade is Pelycosauria. The whole “Mammal-like reptile” classifications are up for intense debate and reviews. So far, Synapsids, which are mammals and their shared relatives all the way back to the last common ancestor of Synapsids and Sauropsids (reptiles, birds, etc.) are regarded as part of Reptilimorpha.

    Many workers in the field privately think the old concept of reptiles and mammal independently evolving from amphibians may not have been far off the mark. They’re still finding earlier and earlier basal specimens of the two classes.

    Skin characteristics alone show marked differences between the two classes. Mammals have very primitive amphibian-like skin while reptiles have a very advanced scaly skin.

  15. mystery_man responds:

    An important aspect of this find is how it shows some of the earlier stages in the development of the mammillian sense of hearing. Mammals have the most advanced sense of hearing of any land animals and it is thought that the inner workings of the ear evolved from part of the jawbone in earlier lifeforms. In Yanoconodon, these structures are not fully detached from the jawbone yet and thus give some idea as to how the structures we use for hearing developed.

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