Ancient hyenas lived in the ARCTIC

21 Juin, 2019, 01:14 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • This ice age fossil tooth — tucked away for years in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature — belonged to the

A 50-year-broken-down mystery surrounding a pair of fossilised teeth has been establish aside to leisure by contemporary overview that implies hyenas once roamed Canada's Arctic.

Zazula said the hyena arrived in North America before the grey wolves, lions, antelope and muskoxen.

The big finding - that ancient hyenas lived in the North American Arctic - is based on two tiny teeth, which archaeologists found in Canada's northern Yukon Territory.

The fossil teeth had been tucked away in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature and are among 50,000 fossils recovered from the area over the last century.

An artist's rendering of ancient Arctic hyenas belonging to the genus Chasmaporthetes.

The two teeth fill a gaping hole in the fossil record. For instance, it also determined the age of the fossils.

Tseng learned about the teeth only through word of mouth. Only a few hyena fossil experts have examined them, "and once we did, it was quite straightforward to identify and describe the specimens", he said. While earlier scientists believed the remains belonged to ancient hyenas, this new research confirms the theory and assigns it a specific genus.

Ancient hyenas likely entered North America via Beringia, an area, including Alaska and Yukon Territory, that connects Asia with North America during periods of low sea levels.

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We now have "physical evidence of Chasmpaporthetes travelling through, or living in, the Arctic region between their ancestral home in Asia and their newfound territory in North America", Tseng told Gizmodo. Chasmaporthetes would have had approximately the same mass as today's hyenas, but with longer legs, so it can move more effectively on long distances.

He says the fossil teeth are most likely between about 1.4 million and 850,000 years old, with ages more likely closer to the older figure.

Incredibly, the new evidence also fills a massive geographical fossil gap-a distance spanning more than 10,000 kilometers between the previously known New and Old World records of this lineage, according to the new study.

Mr Zazula teamed up with Jack Tseng, an evolutionary biologist with a specialty in hyenas at the University of Buffalo and Lars Werdelin at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Scientists had prolonged hypothesised that they also can belong to hyenas, however the idea had no longer been confirmed.

"We're so feeble to pondering of Hyenas residing in areas love Africa, the set up they're working around the savannah, he stated".

There are only four species of hyena around today, but these animals were once diverse, featuring dozens of species that spanned the Northern Hemisphere. This is likely the path hyenas took to North America. Although the reasons for this extinction between 1 and 0.5 million years ago remain unclear, it is possible that the animals' bone-crushing, scavenging niche was replaced by the impressive short-faced bear Arctodus simus, which lived across North America until the end of the ice age about 12,000 years ago.

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