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Steropodon, a close relative of Teinolophos (Australian Museum)


Teinolophos (Greek for "extended ridge tooth"); pronounced tie-NA-low-fuss


Woodlands of Australia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 6 inches long and a few ounces



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; strong jaws


About Teinolophos:

Not a lot is known about Teinolophos, the reconstruction of which is based upon a single lower jaw found in Victoria, Australia. What is evident is that this Mesozoic mammal was a very early monotreme, the line of egg-laying mammals represented today by platypuses. (The monotremes are a primitive branch of mammals that retained the egg-laying habits of their reptilian forebears, rather than giving birth to live young.) Like the other mammals of the early Cretaceous period, Teinolophos probably spent its life high up in trees, to avoid being eaten by the large theropod dinosaurs of its day. Its closest relatives were Steropodon, which lived about 15 million years later, and the Miocene Obdurodon.

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