Were these the original night owls?

Long before mammals appeared on Earth, their reptilelike relatives—an ancient group of synapsids—may have owned the night. Researchers inspected ring-shaped bones called scleral ossicles in the eyes of 38 museum specimens of synapsids, such as Dimetrodon (above), and found that many of them likely possessed good night vision, they reported online yesterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. As Reuters explains, the new finding defies common wisdom in the field that nocturnality arose with the advent of the first true mammals about 200 million years ago.

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