Field of Science

Gardens and bunnies: it could be worse!

A new fossil find of a therapsid, a mammal-like reptile, demonstrates that there could be worse things browsing in your garden than a bunny, although this year bunny browsing was really, really bad! This little fellow was about the size of a pig, so the potential existed for considerable gluttony. The rather strange thing about this critter is the rather remarkable canine teeth, usually the hallmark of a carnivore, e.g., saber tooth "cats", but the rest of the teeth indicate this was a confirmed herbivore (publication link). In the animal kingdom many "out-sized" features are associated with mating behaviors, displays for females or male-male competitions, so that might be the case here too. Modern day porcines have some pretty fearsome canines too, and another function can be in rooting. But generally speaking, my preference would be not to have herbivorous therapsids in my garden. Nice bunnies.

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