Oldest big cat fossil found in Tibet

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posted on Nov, 12 2013 @ 10:14 PM
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Nov. 12, 2013

The oldest big cat fossils ever found - from a previously unknown species "similar to a snow leopard" - have been unearthed in the Himalayas.

The skull fragments of the newly-named Panthera blytheae have been dated between 4.1 and 5.95 million years old.

Their discovery in Tibet supports the theory that big cats evolved in central Asia - not Africa - and spread outward.

The findings by US and Chinese palaeontologists are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

www.bbc.co.uk...


They used both anatomical and DNA data to determine that the skulls belonged to an extinct big cat, whose territory appears to overlap many of the species we know today.

The earliest fossils previously found were just 3.6 million years old - tooth fragments uncovered at Laetoli in Tanzania, the famous hominin site excavated by Mary Leakey in the 1970s.

The new fossils were dug up on an expedition in 2010 in the remote Zanda Basin in southwestern Tibet, and these are believed to range between 4.10 and 5.95 million years old, the complete skull being around 4.4 million years of age.



With these new findings, some scientists are leaning towards the assumption that the big cats came from Asia, not Africa.

"This is a very significant finding - it fills a very wide gap in the fossil record," said Dr Manabu Sakamoto of the University of Bristol, an expert on Pantherinae evolution.

"The discovery presents strong support for the Asian origin hypothesis for the big cats."




edit on 12-11-2013 by snarky412 because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 12:12 AM
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reply to post by snarky412
 

Very interesting,thanks for sharing!



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 12:43 AM
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reply to post by snarky412
 


I wanted to get excited about this, till I read the article. First thing I see a picture of a leopard..... I think its suspect that a Lion came from a leopard and not the other way around. Probably cause lions are awesome....

The dating methods seem, questionable and by questionable I mean I don't know how accurate they are or if its the right kind of dating method in this scenario.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:16 AM
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reply to post by snarky412
 


So they determined it's age by analysing the surrounding rocks in which i was found. Isn't that like burying a watch in your garden, analysing the soil and finding the watch is about 100000 years old?



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:05 AM
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MadMax9
reply to post by snarky412
 


So they determined it's age by analysing the surrounding rocks in which i was found. Isn't that like burying a watch in your garden, analysing the soil and finding the watch is about 100000 years old?



I believe it's a little more complex than that.

But yeah, that's the gist of it......studying and analyzing the various layers of earth via soil and rock build up as well as volcanic flows
Also, part of the analyzing is the issue of magnetic orientations of all samples from a site



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:21 AM
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reply to post by snarky412
 


The ridge of bone running up the middle of its forehead and skull, this isn't usual in cats, is it? Is it common in cat species or is it particular to this new discovery? And tigers are Asian in origin, so it's not surprising an Eve-cat was foun in the region. Lions, as African as Victoria Falls!



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:45 AM
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The world’s first big cats may have arisen millions of years earlier than previously thought



Much of our knowledge about the origin of ancient cats comes from the DNA of living ones. In an extensive 2006 study, researchers made a rough sketch of the evolutionary history of pantherines, the lineage that includes today’s tigers, lions, leopards, and jaguars. They used overlap between the DNA sequences of modern species to backtrack to when various cat lineages likely diverged. According to this picture, the first pantherine evolved from an unknown ancestor, probably living in Central Asia, 10 million to 11 million years ago. Later research suggested that the big cat lineage didn’t start branching into other species—ancestors of modern tigers, for example—until roughly 2 million years ago.

Ancient Cat May Reshape Feline Family Tree



At least three separate lineages likely roamed Asia: one containing P. blytheae and the snow leopard, one containing the clouded leopard, and another leading to the modern tiger. (The ancestors of jaguars and lions probably arose later.)

The team suggests that when shifting tectonic plates forced the Himalayas upward, many mammals—including, according to their new tree, the emerging pantherines—diversified in this snowy refuge.
Some species then spread out across the continent during the Pleistocene ice age.






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