Oldest Tiger Skull Unearthed

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I was just reading the National Geographic’s Daily News and came across this article about the unearthing of a 2.5-million-year-old skull from a new species (Panthera zdanskyi) of tiger. What was interesting is that the skull of modern tigers is really not that different showing that the anatomy of tiger skulls have been ideal for the hunting needs of these animals for millions of years. That brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Comments

  1. #1 starskeptic
    October 20, 2011

    …of course the trunk didn’t get fossilized – so we’ll never really know just how different they were;)

  2. #2 AZSci
    October 28, 2011

    “By plugging measurements and images of the skull into a database of fossilized and modern-day specimens, the study authors were able to place the new species—named Panthera zdanskyi—alongside tigers in the big cat family tree.” That is a depressingly vague and (hopefully!) misleading statement about how paleontologists do science! Databases may be helpful, but they do not do the thinking!

    But then I read the article, and was astounded by the use of “robust” without definition over and over again – it can mean a lot of different things! Also, describing a fossilized (i.e., made of rock) skull as “heavy” seems unhelpful at best!

    Maybe I’m just in a cranky mood today (dissertation writing will do that), and the flying spaghetti monster knows my field is plenty guilty of making stories up on little evidence. I was just initially surprised by the unsophisticated summary in NatGeo, but then more surprised by the not so impressive looking study in PLoS. Okay, fine, I’m just grumpy.

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