The discovery of a gigantic elephant-sized mammal that existed at the same time of dinosaurs has put the theory of evolution into question.
In a paper published last Thursday by the journal Science, researchers in Poland announced the discovery of a new mammal that roamed the earth during the late Triassic period, which occurred more than 200 million years ago.
The recently unearthed creature has been named the Lisowicia bojani, and belongs to the same evolutionary branch as mammals.
The discovery of the elephant-sized, plant eating-creature, which also had a beak-like mouth and reptilian features, was discovered in southern Poland.
“We used to think that after the end-Permian extinction, mammals and their relatives retreated to the shadows while dinosaurs rose up and grew to huge sizes,” said Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a paleontologist at Uppsala University in Sweden who co-authored the study.
But the new discovery shows that giant dicynodonts were living at the same time as sauropods.
“Large dicynodonts have been known before in both the Permian and the Triassic, but never at this scale,” Christian Kammerer, a dicynodont specialist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences said.
What puzzles scientists most about the finding is that large mammals were not believed to have existed at this point.
Until now, Scientists had been operating on the belief that all of the large mammals had died out at the end of the Permian Period, which occurred some 251.9 million years ago.
Scientists had previously believed that only dinosaurs existed at this time. The new discovery will now force scientists to rethink the theory of evolution.
Fossils from so-called dicynodonts, which have been found elsewhere, had all been dated to be from an earlier period, before a series of natural disasters wiped out most species on Earth.