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New fossils shed light on the origins of lions, tigers, and bears

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posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 01:08 PM
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New fossils from Belgium have shed light on the origin of some of the most well-known, and well-loved, modern mammals. Cats and dogs, as well as other carnivorous mammals (like bears, seals, and weasels), taxonomically called 'carnivoraformes', trace their ancestry to primitive carnivorous mammals dating back to 55 million years ago (the beginning of the time period called the Eocene). A study, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, discusses the origins of this group and describes new specimens of one of the earliest of these primitive taxa.

The species, dubbed Dormaalocyon latouri, had previously been found at the Belgian locality of Dormaal (thus the name of the genus). New specimens found by lead author Floréal Solé and his colleagues, allow for a better characterization of the animal, and its placement in the evolutionary history of carnivores. "Its description allows better understanding of the origination, variability and ecology of the earliest carnivoraforms," says Solé.

The new specimens include over 250 teeth and ankle bones. More teeth allow for a description of the entire tooth row of Dormaalocyon, while previous finds only included two upper molars. The new finds even include the deciduous teeth (or 'baby teeth'). The fact that these teeth are very primitive looking, and from a very early time, implies that Dormaalocyon is close to the origin of carnivoraforms, and that this origin may have been in Europe.

The ankle bones suggest that Dormaalocyon was arboreal, living and moving through the trees. Previous reconstructions of the environment at Dormaal 55 million years ago inferred a warm, humid, and wooded area. This was a time soon after an event called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (or PETM). This extremely warm period affected the evolution of many mammal groups, including carnivoraforms. Dr. Solé believes that the fact that Dormaalocyon was arboreal, and that carnivoraforms made their way to North America around this time, "supports the existence of a continuous evergreen forest belt at high latitudes during the PETM."
Read more at Science Daily

Every week I read of a new discovery. It seems the evolutionary tree is being filled in I know for some it isn't happening fast enough however when you consider the conditions that need to be met for remains to be fossilized it is pretty amazing we have so much evidence.

So we think we found the common ancestor of our household pets. It is pretty cool.




posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 01:09 PM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 


Oh my!

2nd.



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 02:30 PM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 


Interesting topic and cleanly laid out as always from you.

I wonder how they infer it's environment from an ankle bone, and teeth. Has this critter been found before with more than teeth and ankles? Its just a question I'm curious about.

I know there are several fossil animals with very few bones found that an artist has fleshed out....I've never been sure how they come up with what we see depicted from so few remains.....is it because there are so many similar critters they can infer?

Another great topic from you, thanks for the interesting read.

Cheers.



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 05:16 PM
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reply to post by Treespeaker
 


You know that's a good question. I have wondered that myself on occasion like when they found an extinct species of a platypus. They certainly didn't have much to go on but they did have teeth which set it apart.

Maybe teeth tell more of a story about animals than I can imagine.

Sorry I can only guess about the answer maybe someone will come along here with more knowledge on the subject.



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 08:01 PM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 


Great find. Thanks for sharing.




posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 08:28 PM
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KawRider9
reply to post by Grimpachi
 


Oh my!

2nd.


That was quick, one minute into the thread. Star for you.



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