Teinolophos (Greek for "extended ridge tooth"); pronounced tie-NA-low-fuss
Woodlands of Australia
Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 6 inches long and a few ounces
Small size; strong jaws
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.