Scientists Discover Rusingoryx Fossils

Scientists have discovered fossils of a creature called Rusingoryx, which is the cousin of a wildebeest, at the ancient streambed on the Rusinga Island in Kenya. The creature had an unusual nasal formation that seemed more similar to that of a dinosaur rather than a mammal. At the location, a minimum of 24 Rusingoryx individuals were discovered. The deaths might have been caused by humans, which are evident through the butchered bones and stone tools, according to Kirsten Jenkins, a paleoanthropologist from University of Minnesota.

The scientists revealed that the Rusingoryx had a crescent-shaped protrusion on top of his head, which was not present on any mammal in past or in current world. It rather looked like the head crests of a duckbilled dinosaur known as hadrosaurs. According to Haley O’Brien, a paleontologist at Ohio University, the horned, hoofed grass-eater mammal might have used this depression for the generation of low trumpeting sound for the purpose of long-distance communication with its group.

These mammals lived in the savannahs of Africa several thousand years ago. “This structure was incredibly surprising. To see a hollow nasal crest outside of dinosaurs and in a mammal that lived so recently is very bizarre,” said O’Brien. The fossils found are aged approximately 55,000-75,000 years ago. Lambeosaurus and Corythosaurus hadrosaurs existed approximately 75 million years ago.

According to O’Brien, the fossil seems to be an evidence of convergent evolution, which means the evolution of a feature by a distinct creature to adjust in the similar environments or ecological niches. The nasal structure of Rusingoryx might have enabled to produce infrasound levels, which other species cannot hear. The skulls of six adult and juvenile Rusingoryx’s were studied by the scientists. The skeletal crest on the skulls’ top and front were primarily empty from inside and had an entire nasal mechanism into it.