Student discovers ancient fossils

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AN UNDERGRADUATE student from the University of Portsmouth discovered fossils of the oldest mammals related to mankind while carrying out research for his dissertation.

Grant Smith found two teeth belonging to small, rat-like creatures that lived 145 million years ago, while on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.

The findings have been published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica by Dr Steve Sweetman, research fellow at the university, and co-author colleagues.

Dr Sweetman, whose research interests includes small vertebrates which lived with the dinosaurs, identified the teeth.

He said: ‘Grant was sifting through small samples of earliest Cretaceous rocks collected on the coast of Dorset as part of his undergraduate dissertation project in the hope of finding some interesting remains.

‘Quite unexpectedly he found not one but two quite remarkable teeth of a type never before seen from rocks of this age.‘