New Fossil Sheds Light on Oldest Known Ancestor of Giant Panda

New Fossil Sheds Light on Oldest Known Ancestor of Giant Panda

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In May, Dr Juan Abella and colleagues from the Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology announced the discovery of a new fossil species of bear that roamed what is now Spain in the Miocene period. On the basis of fossil teeth found at the Nombrevilla 2 site in the province of Zaragoza, the species was assigned to the genus Agriarctos and named A. beatrix.

In a new study, published online in the journal PloS ONE, Dr Abella’s team describes a newly found jaw fossil from the Vallès-Penedès Basin and suggests that the species is distinct enough as to be attributed to a different genus. “The new genus we describe in this paper is not only the first bear recorded in the Iberian Peninsula, but also the first of the giant panda’s lineage,” Dr Abella said.

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