This sad jumble of bones is all that remains of Volaticotherium antiquus, a small rat-sized mammal that was recently dug up in China. There are two particularly outstanding things about this creature.
One is that browner layer in the rock: that isn’t an artifact, it’s a bit of soft tissue that was preserved, called a patagium. A patagium is a thin membrane stretched between the limbs, and is used for…flying! This animal probably lived much like a modern flying squirrel (although it is definitely not a squirrel), gliding from tree to tree.
The second surprise is the age. This is a Mesozoic mammal, from Chinese beds that are roughly dated to somewhere around the mid Jurassic to early Cretaceous—it was a contemporary of the dinosaurs. I’m tickled to imagine a diplodocid stretching up its long neck to strip the foliage from a tree branch, and this little guy squeaking angrily and leaping off to fly to the next tree.
Now one more thing we need, but are extremely unlikely to find, is a Mesozoic moose.
Mang J, Hu Y, Wang Y, Wang X, Li C (2006) A Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China. Nature 444:889-893.