The Missing Link: Scrat! No, Really!

Posted on February 19, 2013

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And now for a little light entertainment, a chuckle which will hopefully brighten your day.  Sometimes life imitates art – or in this case, a fossil imitates a cartoon – in the most satisfyingly hilarious way.

If you have seen any of the Ice Age movies by Blue Sky Studios, then you are familiar with Scrat, that hyperactive squirrelly-ratty character eternally in pursuit of an acorn (with disastrous results).

What a surprise to find that the animators were actually years ahead of the scientific community, which just recently announced that they have identified the common ancestor of all placental mammals (including us).  Yes, our great-great-great… insert lotsa greats here… grandfather is none other than Scrat, or at least somebody who bears a pretty close resemblance.

ScratNYT

Illustration: Carl Buell

This little dude was not the only placental mammal around during the age of the dinosaurs, but he was, as far as science currently knows, the only one to survive the great extinction that killed off the dinosaurs – and apparently, all the other placental mammals too.  Hardy stock, I’d say.  As the New York Times reports, the critter’s name is Protungulatum donnae, and until now, it “has been so obscure that it lacks a colloquial nickname.”

I say, call him Scrat.

For more entertainment, here’s a video explaining how Scrat is responsible for the breakup of the primordial continental mass.  Who knows, maybe the next scientific study will confirm this as well!

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