Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A 'cousin' of the giant panda lived in what is now Zaragoza, Spain

Date:
May 9, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
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 researchers.

Illustration of Agriarctos beatrix.
Credit: Image SINC

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 Geol๓gicos.

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.

"This fur pattern is considered primitive for bears, such as that of the giant panda whose white spots are so big that it actually seems to be white with black spots," states Abella.

Agriarctos beatrix, from the Ursidae family and related to giant pandas, would have lived in the forest and could have been more sessile that those bears that tend to hunt more, such as the brown or polar bears. According to researchers, the extinct bear would have escaped from other larger carnivores by climbing up trees.

The expert highlights that "its diet would have been similar to that of the sun bear or the spectacled bear that only eat vegetables and fruit and sometimes vertebrates, insects, honey and dead animals."

The lone bear

"We know that it was a different species to those documented up until now because of its morphological differences and the size of its teeth," confirms the scientist. "We have compared it with species of the same kind (Agriarctos) and similar kinds from the same period (Ursavus and Indarctos)."

The reasons for its extinction have yet to be determined but "the most probable cause is likely to be the opening up of the forests giving way to more open, drier spaces and the appearance of similar yet larger and more competitive species," says Abella.

The findings now date the appearance of this group related to giant pandas some two millions years later, from 9 million years ago to 11 million years ago. They could have originated in the north-east basins of the Iberian Peninsula.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Abella, P. Montoya, J. Morales. A New species of Agriarctos (Ailuropodinae, Ursidae, Carnivora) in the locality of Nombrevilla 2 (Zaragoza, Spain). Estudios Geol๓gicos, 2012; 67 (2): 187 DOI: 10.3989/egeol.40714.182

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "A 'cousin' of the giant panda lived in what is now Zaragoza, Spain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509092517.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, May 9). A 'cousin' of the giant panda lived in what is now Zaragoza, Spain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509092517.htm
Plataforma SINC. "A 'cousin' of the giant panda lived in what is now Zaragoza, Spain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509092517.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins