|“||These are Leptictidium. They are a meter long and a common sight in the forests of fifty million years ago. Their kind have survived virtually unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs.||„|
|— Allen, about Leptictidium|
Leptictidium (name meaning "Graceful Weasel") is a genus of small mammal that originated during the beginning of the Early Palaeocene epoch in what is now Germany. Measuring around a meter long, this prehistoric, shrew-like insectivore mammal hopped like kangaroos do today.
In the Series 3 premiere "The Little Roo", a female Leptictidium and her offspring were saved from a poisonous air gas and brought back to the park from Eocene Germany 50 million years ago.
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Leptictidium lived during the Early Eocene epoch, over 50 million years ago and lived up until the late Eocene, around 35 million years ago. They were a common sight in forests during the Eocene. Due to its small size, it was prey for various carnivores, such as Gastornis and Ambulocetus.
Leptictidium was first described by Wighart von Koenigswald and Gerhard Storch in 1987. It is known best from spectacular fossils in the Shale deposits of Messel and Geistel in Germany. Leptictids are known to have lived at the end of the time of Dinosaurs, and it is possible that the genus Leptictidium spanned from the Late Cretaceous to the Late Eocene.
Leptictidium was a relatively small mammal, about 3 feet (1 m) long and less than a meter in height. They were warm–blooded and fast–moving 24 hours a day. Also, to help track down their prey, Leptictidium had an incredibly acute sense of hearing and a distinctive super–sensitive nose that could twitch to locate food among leaf litter. And they were agile enough to catch even flying insects. Leptictidium needed a lot of food for their size. Like all mammals, this was a price they pay for a warm–blooded metabolism.
Interestingly, due to their appearance and the fact that they hopped to move around, Leptictidium were the very first ancestors of modern-day Kangaroos and Wallabies. Hopping aside, in the front Leptictidium resembled the modern elephant shrews or sengus, primitive mammals, which can still be found today mostly in the African savanna.
Behavior & DiscoveryEdit
Leptictidiums often lived in fig trees and was adapted to dense forest and jungle life, with a lifestyle of foraging. A typical mammal, the females looked after their offspring until they were old enough to fend for themselves. They also could have had as many as four offspring and the adult females always hunted, whatever the risk was.
And when the young always when with their mothers to see the world, the also watched their mother and followed her to see what was safe to eat. The cool early morning was an ideal time for them to catch the frogs, lizards, and insects they fed on.
- The sounds of Leptictidium are mouse squeaks and guniea pig squeaks.