Monday, 2 November 2015

Meet the first Iberian lynx on the Iberian Peninsula

Date: October 28, 2015
Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

The remains of an Iberian lynx specimen which lived 1.6 million years ago -- the oldest ever discovered -- were found resting in a cave in Barcelona (Spain). This discovery not only allows us to shed light on the origins of one of the world's most endangered feline species, but it also means that the emergence of this species on the Iberian Peninsula dates back half a million years earlier than what was originally believed.

This newly discovered specimen was 10 to 20 centimetres larger and around 10 kilograms heavier than the Iberian lynx that currently inhabits Doñana National Park in Spain. Its coat was also longer than it is today in order to withstand continuous near-freezing temperatures. This description of the feline was formulated after a study was carried out on one of the first Iberian lynxes that ever lived in Spain.

Part of a cranial fossil belonging to an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) was uncovered among the horse, goat, deer, woolly mammoth, fox and wolf bones preserved in the Avenc Marcel Cave located in the Garraf massif of Barcelona. This is the oldest Iberian lynx that has been found on the Iberian Peninsula to date and it was discovered by the scientist Manel Llenas in 2003.

The fossil remains of this feline are proof of its presence on the Iberian Peninsula as early as 1.6 to 1.7 million years ago. Up until now scientists had dated the appearance of the Iberian lynx to between 1 and 1.1 million years ago. Thus, this discovery means that the emergence of this feline on the Iberian Peninsula actually dates back 500,000 years earlier than what scientists originally thought.



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