Oldest gliding mammal found according to reports in BBC News 13 December 2006 and Nature, vol 444, p889 14 December 2006. Palaeontologists in China have found the fossil of a squirrel sized animal in rocks dated as 125 million years old. This makes it at least 65 million years older than the previous oldest flying mammal – a rodent dated as being 30 million years old. The new fossil is very well preserved and has a clear imprint of a fur covered fold of skin stretching between its fore and hind limbs. The creature had long limbs, similar to living gliding mammals, but it is so different from other mammals that it has been classified as a new order of mammals. It has been given the scientific name Volaticotherium antiques which means “ancient gliding beast”. One of the scientists who studied the fossil, Dr Jim Meng of the American Museum of Natural History, commented: “This new evidence of gliding flight in early mammals is giving us a dramatically new picture of many of the animals that lived in the age of the dinosaurs.” The Editor’s introduction in Nature comments: “This discovery shows that mammals were living highly diverse lives during this relatively early stage of their evolution.”


Editorial Comment: Fossil evidence shows mammals have been living “highly diverse lives” as long as they have existed. The fossil record of mammals IS one of fully formed functional creatures well designed to live in a variety of environments. The fact that this new and extinct mammal is so different to living mammals that it must be classified into a new order, is a sign that there was once a greater variety of mammals living on the earth but some have died out. It is not evidence for evolution, but for extinction and loss – the opposite of evolution. (Ref. gliders, Mesozoic, classification)

Evidence News 9 February 2007