Navigation Links
Fossil of new big cat species discovered; oldest ever found
Date:11/13/2013

The oldest big cat fossil ever found which fills in a significant gap in the fossil record was discovered on a paleontological dig in Tibet, scientists announced today.

A skull from the new species, named Panthera blytheae, was excavated and described by a team led by Jack Tseng a PhD student at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the time of the discovery, and now a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York.

"This find suggests that big cats have a deeper evolutionary origin than previously suspected," Tseng said.

The announcement was made in a scientific paper published by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, on Nov. 13.

Tseng's coauthors include Xiaoming Wang, who has joint appointments at USC, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, the AMNH, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS); Graham Slater of the Smithsonian Institution; Gary Takeuchi of the NHM and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits; Qiang Li of the CAS; Juan Liu of the University of Alberta and the CAS; and Guangpu Xie of the Gansu Provincial Museum.

DNA evidence suggests that the so-called "big cats" the Pantherinae subfamily, including lions, jaguars, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards diverged from their nearest evolutionary cousins, Felinae (which includes cougars, lynxes, and domestic cats), about 6.37 million years ago. However, the oldest fossils of big cats previously found are tooth fragments uncovered at Laetoli in Tanzania (the famed hominin site excavated by Mary Leakey in the 1970s), dating to just 3.6 million years ago.

Using magnetostratigraphy dating fossils based on the distinctive patterns of reversals in the Earth's magnetic field, which are recorded in layers of rock Tseng and his team were able to estimate the age of the skull at between 4.10 and 5.95 million years old.

The new cat takes its name from Blythe, the snow-leopard-loving daughter of Paul and Heather Haaga, who are avid supporters of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The find not only challenges previous suppositions about the evolution of big cats, it also helps place that evolution in a geographical context. The find occurs in a region that overlaps the majority of current big cat habitats, and suggests that the group evolved in central Asia and spread outward.

In addition, recent estimates suggested that the genus Panthera (lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards) did not split from genus Neofelis (clouded leopards) until 3.72 million years ago which the new find disproves.

Tseng, his wife Juan Liu, and Takeuchi discovered the skull in 2010 while scouting in the remote border region between Pakistan and China an area that takes a bumpy seven-day car ride to reach from Beijing.

Liu found over one hundred bones that were likely deposited by a river eroding out of a cliff. There, below the antelope limbs and jaws, was the crushed but largely complete remains of the skull.

"It was just lodged in the middle of all that mess," Tseng said.

For the past three years, Tseng and his team have used both anatomical and DNA data to determine that the skull does, in fact, represent a new species.

They plan to return to the site where they found the skull in the summer to search for more specimens.

"We are in the business of discovery," said Wang, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the NHM; adjunct professor of geoscience and biology at USC; and research associate at AMNH. "We go out into the world in search of new fossils to illuminate the past."


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Protecting living fossil trees
2. Dinosaur fossil: Even specialized predators didnt turn down free meals
3. Seismic zones, river deltas, landslides, fossil reptiles, and more new Geology science
4. Buy coal? New analysis shows purchasing fossil fuel deposits best way to fight climate change
5. Anthropologist finds explanation for hominin brain evolution in famous fossil
6. Ancient giant turtle fossil revealed
7. Scientists find gold-plated fossil solution
8. Human-like spine morphology found in aquatic eel fossil
9. Work starts on fossil fuel free cargo ship set to transform shipping industry
10. Fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tire
11. Fossil egg discovered in Lleida (Spain) links dinosaurs to modern birds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Fossil of new big cat species discovered; oldest ever found
(Date:5/24/2016)... IRVINE, Calif. , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care ... LMD3251MT  3D medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Elevay is currently ... expanding freedom for high net worth professionals seeking travel ... globally connected world, there is still no substitute for ... duplicate sealing your deal with a firm handshake. This ... taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs like those ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... to integrate the Onegini mobile security platform with ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The integration will ... to access and transact across channels. Using this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. ... years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or ... of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for ... as WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, ... medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed ... to serve as their official health care provider. ... will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and ... volunteers, athletes and families. "We are ... and to bring Houston Methodist quality services and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the ... institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the Class ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: