Scientists found remains of the last European giant panda: it lived 6 million years ago

Image of a current panda. (Photo: Headquarters)

A scientific team has discovered a new species of panda that roamed the forested wetlands of Bulgaria about six million years ago and is the last known and “most evolved” European giant panda.

The description of this new close relative of the current panda is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and, according to the researchers, The discovery demonstrates that historical finds in paleontology “can lead to unexpected results, even today.”

The researchers came to their conclusions thanks to two tooth fossils that were found in the 1970s and have now been unearthed from the bowels of the Bulgarian National Museum of Natural History.

Although it is not a direct ancestor of the modern giant panda genus, it is its close relative. explains museum professor Nikolai Spassov, who details that this did not depend exclusively on bamboo.

The teeth were originally cataloged by paleontologist Ivan Nikolov, who added them to the museum’s collection of fossilized treasures when they were unearthed in northwestern Bulgaria; this new The species is named “Agriarctos nikolovi” in his honour.

The discovery shows that historical findings in paleontology
The discovery shows that historical findings in paleontology “can lead to unexpected results, even today” (REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva / Archive) (TATYANA MAKEYEVA /)

“They just had a vaguely handwritten tag,” recalls Spassov, who took many years to figure out their age and location. “Also,” he says, “it took me a while to realize that it was an unknown giant panda fossil.”

The charcoal deposits in which the teeth were found – which have given them a blackened hue – suggest that this ancient panda inhabited forested and swampy regions.

There, during the Miocene epoch, it probably ate a mostly vegetarian diet, but not exclusively dependent on bamboo.

It is possible, according to scientists, that it fed on softer plant materials.

”The probable competition with other species, especially with carnivores and presumably with other bears, explains the greater food specialization of giant pandas towards plant foods in humid forest conditions”says Spassov in a statement.

An artist's reconstruction shows another species of panda, the extinct Ailurarctos that lived about 6 million years ago, with its fossils unearthed near the city of Zhaotong in northern <a class=China‘s Yunnan province, in this undated illustration. Mauricio Anton/Handout via REUTERS” height=”2146″ src=”https://www.americanchronicles.news/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/1659366657_251_Scientists-found-remains-of-the-last-European-giant-panda-it.jpg” width=”3307″ />
An artist’s reconstruction shows another species of panda, the extinct Ailurarctos that lived about 6 million years ago, with its fossils unearthed near the city of Zhaotong in northern China‘s Yunnan province, in this undated illustration. Mauricio Anton/Brochure via REUTERS (MAURICIO ANTON/)

The article speculates that A. nikolovi’s teeth nonetheless provided ample defense against predators.

The canines are comparable in size to those of the modern panda, suggesting that they belonged to an animal of similar size or only slightly smaller.

The authors propose that A. nikolovi could have become extinct as a result of climate change, likely due to the “Messinian salinity crisis,” an event in which the Mediterranean basin dried up, significantly altering the surrounding terrestrial environments.

(with information from EFE)

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Source-www.infobae.com