Home / Science / Fossil proves hyenas once roamed Canada's Arctic Plains

Fossil proves hyenas once roamed Canada's Arctic Plains



 Hyena

Image copyright
Thinkstock

A 50-year-old mystery surrounding a pair of fossilized teeth has been rooted in Canada's Arctic.

A team The scientists have identified the teeth, which were found in the Yukon in the 1

970s.

Their findings were published on Tuesday in scientific journal Open Quaternary.

The two teeth were found during a paleontological expedition in Yukon's Old Crow Basin in 1973.

Indigenous explorers have been working with scientists to plumb the treasures of the region for over a century, says Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government.

It was nearly 50 years to find out what they were and who they belonged to. The teeth wound up on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature at Ottawa, which is where Mr Zazula first saw them.

Scientists had long been hypothesised that they had belonged to hyenas, but the theory had not been confirmed.

Mr Zazula teamed up with Jack Tseng at the University of Buffalo and Lars Werdelin at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

  • Ice age caves discovered underneath city of Montreal

A meeting of minds came together, "Mr Zazula told the BBC. "Because (Tseng) is so well-versed in hyena fossils he instantly knew right away what they were."

The age of the fossils to be between 850,000 and 1.4 million years old.

How did the fossils get there?

Although modern-day hyenas live in Africa, fossils belonging to ancient genus have been found as far as Mongolia and as far west as Mexico.

That's a 6,000 kilometer gap.

Thesis fossils help connect the dots, and confirm the hypothesis that they have arrived to North America from Russia on the Bering Strait, Mr Zazula said.

"Hyenas living in places like Africa, where they're running around the savannah, he said." But to think of living in snow and 24-hour darkness in the winter is totally different. "


Source link