Oldest fossil of giant panda family discovered

Nov 14, 2012
Dentognathic material of Kretzoiarctos gen. nov. beatrix Credit: Citation: Abella J, Alba DM, Robles JM, Valenciano A, Rotgers C, et al. (2012) Kretzoiarctos gen. nov., the Oldest Member of the Giant Panda Clade. PLoS ONE, 7(11): e48985. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048985

New fossils found in Spain are thought to be of the oldest recorded ancestor of the giant panda.

The fossils reveal the origins of this unique bear, as described in a paper published November 14 in the open access journal by Juan Abella and colleagues from the National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology, Spain.

The two 11.6 million year old fossil jaws and teeth were discovered in southwest Europe and represent a new genus likely to be the oldest known members of the giant panda family. The fossils bear the characteristics of a bear adapted to eating tough plant material like bamboo. The giant panda, native to certain parts of China, is the only living member of this unique bear family with these dietary habits.

Corresponding author Juan Abella adds "The new genus we describe in this paper is not only the first bear recorded in the , but also the first of the 's lineage."

Explore further: A better grasp of primate grip

More information: Abella J, Alba DM, Robles JM, Valenciano A, Rotgers C, et al. (2012) Kretzoiarctos gen. nov., the Oldest Member of the Giant Panda Clade. PLoS ONE 7(11): e48985. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048985

Related Stories

Giant panda's 'cousin' lived in Spain

May 09, 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, ...

Old-growth forests are what giant pandas need

Jan 11, 2011

The results of a study recently published in the journal Biology Letters indicate that giant pandas need old-growth forests as much as bamboo forests. This work, which was completed through the collaborative efforts of sci ...

Panda genome resembles dog: Chinese media

Dec 13, 2009

A detailed genome map of the giant panda completed by Chinese scientists has shown that the notoriously shy animal is genetically similar to the dog, state media reported Sunday.

Recommended for you

A better grasp of primate grip

11 hours ago

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history.

Oldest fossils controversy resolved

11 hours ago

New analysis of world-famous 3.46 billion-year-old rocks by researchers from The University of Western Australia is set to finally resolve a long-running evolutionary controversy.

Rare tidal movements expose Kimberley dinosaur tracks

Apr 17, 2015

While audiences in Perth attend Walking with Dinosaurs this weekend palaeontologists working near Broome will be documenting the extinct vertebrates' extensive fossilised footsteps using laser scanning technology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.