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Fossilized skull leads to discovery of new genus at Badlands

Paleoartistic reconstruction of Santuccimeryx.
Benji Paysnoe
National Park Service
Paleoartistic reconstruction of Santuccimeryx.

This interview originally aired on "In the Moment" on SDPB Radio.

A tiny, cat-sized deer once roamed the prehistoric Great Plains. When it died, it became part of the rock bed at Badlands National Park.

Around 32 million years later, an intern discovered and properly reported the skull of this individual deer.

Researchers soon realized the skull was unique. Not only is it the first fossil discovered in a new species, it's the first of a new genus.

Mattison Shreero is a park ranger, geologist and paleontologist and one of the main researchers on the paper describing Santuccimeryx. She shares why this tiny deer has big implications for the scientific record.

Ellen Koester is a producer of In the Moment, SDPB's daily news and culture broadcast.
Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.