Washington: Scientists from South Africa, Australia and France have discovered a world first association while scanning a 250 million year old fossilized burrow from the Karoo Basin of South Africa.
The burrow revealed two unrelated vertebrate animals nestled together and fossilized after being trapped by a flash flood event.
Facing harsh climatic conditions subsequent to the Permo-Triassic (P-T) mass extinction, the amphibian Broomistega and the mammal forerunner Thrinaxodon cohabited in a burrow.
Scanning shows that the amphibian, which was suffering from broken ribs, crawled into a sleeping mammal`s shelter for protection.
This research suggests that short periods of dormancy, called aestivation, in addition to burrowing behavior, may have been a crucial adaptation that allowed mammal ancestors to survive the P-T extinction.
The research is published in the scientific journal, PLoS ONE.