Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A 'Cousin' of the Giant Panda Lived in What Is Now Zaragoza, Spain



ScienceDaily (May 9, 2012) — A team of Spanish scientists have found a new ursid fossil species in the area of Nombrevilla in Zaragoza, Spain. Agriarctos beatrix was a small plantigrade omnivore and was genetically related to giant pandas, according to the authors of the study.

The fossil remains of a new ursid species, Agriarctos beatrix, have been discovered in the Nombrevilla 2 site in the province of Zaragoza, Spain. Researchers from Spain's National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC) and the University of Valencia suggested that this plantigrade lived during the Myocene period some 11 million years ago.

"This bear species was small, even smaller than the Sun bear -- currently the smallest bear species. It would not have weighed more than 60 kilos," as explained by Juan Abella, researcher at the Department of Paleobiology of the MNCN-CSIC and lead author of the study, published in the journal Estudios Geológicos.

Although it is difficult to determine its physical appearance given that only pieces of dental fossils have been found, scientists believe that it would have had dark fur with white spots mainly on the chest, around the eyes and possibly close to the tail.

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