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The majority of the fossils I have worked on are the Permo-Triassic therapsids . This is the extinct, group of amniotes that technically includes the mammals and their pre-mammalian forerunners. The earlier, pre-mammalian members are remarkable for the way in which different kinds of them possessed different numbers and degrees of mammalian characters – some were still very reptile-like, others very close to fully mammalian. From the record of these ‘mammal-like reptiles’ as a whole, a picture can be built of the pattern and sequence of acquisition of mammalian traits, and therefore of the gradual evolution of the endothermic, large-brained, highly agile, and almost infinitely adaptable animals familiar to us today as the mammalian radiation.

Zambian therapsids

CT scans of cynodont skull

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