The Crocodile Goat of Majorca

Discovery tells the strange story of the island-dwelling goat that was more like a reptile than a mammal:

The tiny goat, which stood about 19 inches tall at the shoulder, took on characteristics of cold-blooded reptiles, a first for a mammal, in order to survive life on the island of Majorca, where food sources were few and far between.

In doing so, the Plio-Pleistocene goat left behind at least five attributes associated with many warm-blooded mammals: relatively fast movement, high growth rates, keen senses, high metabolism and fairly big brains.

“(Myotragus) not only decreased aerobic capacities and behavioral traits, but also flexibly synchronized growth rates and metabolic needs to the prevailing resource conditions as do ectothermic reptiles,” researchers Meike Kohler and Salvador Moya-Sola wrote in a study published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They’ve been extinct for millennia, so I don’t think Alpine mountaineers need to worry about being savagely ambushed and tucked away in one of the tiny creatures’ crevice meat lockers. I don’t think so, anyway.

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