Student Paleontologist Finds Fossil Remains Of New Species
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And here's a moment paleontologists dream of, discovering the fossil remains of a new species. For student Carissa Raymond at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it happened on her very first try. She was helping her professor hunt down fossils in the San Juan basin in New Mexico.
CARISSA RAYMOND: And I walked over this little hill, and I saw this row of black teeth just sticking up. And I thought, wow, I'm so glad I finally found something. I didn't know it was something so important.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
She wrapped the fossils in toilet paper and showed them to Thomas Williamson, who's from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
THOMAS WILLIAMSON: The teeth were very, very distinctive, so I knew immediately it was definitely something new.
INSKEEP: And they belong to some big, rodent-like mammal.
WILLIAMSON: This guy probably weighed about 40 or 50 pounds. We like to describe him as a primeval beaver.
MONTAGNE: Primeval beaver sounds like something from the film "The Princess Bride."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE PRINCESS BRIDE")
CARY ELWES: (As Westley) Rodents of unusual size? I don't think they exist.
INSKEEP: OK, in truth, it was not a giant, man-eating rodent. This was a new species, Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, which lived 65 million years ago.
RAYMOND: I could've walked over a different hill and found nothing. But it's very exciting because I've gone on to work for several other expeditions, and I've found a lot of cool things but nothing this cool.
MONTAGNE: It was one of the earliest plant-eating mammals, in fact, and quite a find for Carissa Raymond.
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