These strange, hopping animals are part of a group that survived the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, but became extinct when the lush tropical forests disappeared about 40 million years. Three species of different sizes are well preserved in Germany, showing even the outlines of fur and stomach contents.

Fast Facts Edit

Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 3.3 ft (1m) long
Protection status: Extinct
The leptictids were around for a long time but the best Leptictidium fossils are from the Messel Shales of Germany. Extraordinary Leptictidium fossils have been found that tell us they ate lizards, insects and small mammals and even that they had fur. Large hind legs indicate they were bipedal, however scientists have puzzled over whether they hopped like kangaroos or ran like chickens. A long, bare tail acted as a counterbalance and a mobile snout helped Leptictidium to sniff out its prey. Three different species have so far been discovered. It's most probable that they became extinct when their forest habitat gave way to open grasslands.

Scientific name: Leptictidium Rank: Genus

Common names:Edit

graceful weasel

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