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Forgotten fossil reveals kattliknande predators

”Simbakubwa kutokaafrika”, as the species has been named, means ”the great african lion” in swahili, but despite the name, it was no cat. Instead, it was the oldest known species of a group of extinct mammals called hyaenodonter.

– Based on its massive teeth were Simbakubwa a specialized hyperkarnivor (omnivores that primarily eat meat), which was significantly larger than the modern lion, and possibly larger than a polar bear, " says paleontologist Matthew Borths to AFP.

researcher at the Kenyan national museum in Nairobi in 2013, he asked the social worker to look in a cabinet marked ”hyenas”. In one of the drawers he found the unusual fossils that had been excavated between 1978 and 1980 in western Kenya, writes National Geographic.

Borths contacted a colleague at Ohio university, Nancy Stevens, who had also done research at the same museum, and, it appeared, had actually been thinking over the content in the same box. They both decided to return to Nairobi in 2017 in order to analyze the skelettdelarna.

in the scientific journal ”Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology”. It is hoped that the discovery may help to understand evolutionsfrågor around this group of large predators, which was at the top of the food chain in Africa when the monkeys also began to develop.

Jack Tseng, a paleontologist at the Buffalouniversitet who was not involved in the study, calls the research ”impressive”.

– Each time something of this size emerges in the fauna you have to start rethinking exactly how the interactions between predators and prey worked, " he said to National Geographic.

also help researchers better understand why these big predators died out.

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