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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.
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?
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.