Photo: Spanish Agriarctos Beatrix, Panda Cousin
Spanish scientists from Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and the University of Valencia have discovered a new ursid fossil species in the region of Zaragoza, Spain.
The fossil, showing only dental evidence of the animal, may have inhabited Spain and the north east areas of the Iberian Peninsula close to 11 million year ago during the Myocene Period.
“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,” stated Juan Abella to SINC, a researcher at the Department of Paleobiology of the National Museum as well as the lead author of the study.
Abella continues to state, “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.”
Abella and other researchers believe this species, named, Agriarctos Beatrix, come from the Ursidae family and is related to giant pandas. It is also believed that they would have lived in the forest and climbed trees to escape predators. Their reason for extinction is still unknown, however Abella notes in the research report: ‘A New Species of Agriarctos’, “the most probably 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.”