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A Synopsis of Paper 61: The Mammalian Era on Urantia

The mammalian era covers a period of fifty thousand years, starting from the times of the origin of placental mammals to the end of the ice age. Mammals have several survival advantages over other forms of life. They possess an ability to adapt to their environment, superior intelligence, agility, delivery of relatively mature offspring, and a tendency to nourish and protect their young.

Fifty million years ago placental mammals suddenly appeared in North America, descendants of a small, highly active, springing-type of carnivorous dinosaur.

Forty-five million years ago mammalian life was evolving rapidly. A small egg‑laying type of mammal flourished. The ancestors of kangaroos existed in Australia. Small versions of horses, rhinoceroses, tapirs, primitive pigs, squirrels, lemurs, opossums and monkey-like creatures appeared. A ten-foot-tall ostrich‑like bird developed which became the ancestor of the passenger birds of later times.

These early mammals lived on land, under the water, in the air and among the treetops. They had mammary glands, were covered with considerable hair, developed two successive sets of teeth, and had large brains. At this time North America was connected to every continent except Australia; the world was overrun by primitive mammals.

Thirty-five million years ago began the age of domination by placental mammals. The dinosaur species were on the decline. Various groups of mammals took origin in an amphibious animal, now extinct, that was a cross between a cat and a seal. The ancestor of dogs evolved in Europe. Rodents appeared.

Thirty million years ago modern types of mammals began to develop. Hoofed types of grazing animals appeared. Horses and rhinoceroses continued to evolve. A small hog-like creature developed which became the ancestor of swine, peccaries, and hippos. Camels, llamas, and ancient lemurs originated. A group of mammals took to the seas and became ancestors to whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions. Most modern bird types existed.

Twenty million years ago the Bering land bridge was above water. Deer, oxen, camels, bison and rhinoceroses migrated to North America from Asia. Fifty species of elephant overran the entire world except Australia. Giant pigs became extinct.

Fifteen million years ago enormous herds of horses roamed western North America. Primitive monkeys and gorillas evolved in Asia. Wolves and foxes came into existence; panthers and saber‑tooth tigers represented the cat family.

Ten million years ago the last great world‑wide animal migration began. Camels entered China; sloths, armadillos, antelopes and bears moved to North America. The giraffe evolved in Africa. Mastodons migrated into every continent except Australia. The ocean currents shifted and seasonal winds changed direction. Parts of Europe and North America rose up to 30,000 feet and more; the thick depths of snow that began to form on the highlands eventually became masses of solid creeping ice.

Two million years ago marks the beginning of the ice ages. Throughout the ice ages, glaciers advanced and retreated across the continents, carving the landscape as they went. Many animal species were destroyed and others were radically changed by the rigors of migration. In North America, the last glacier movement wiped out horses, tapirs, llamas, and saber‑tooth tigers. The ice ages ended thirty-five thousand years ago.

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