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Modern hyenas are known as hunters and scavengers in Asian and African ecosystems such as the savanna.
But in ancient times, these powerful carnivores also roamed a very different landscape, inhabiting the frigid Arctic during the last ice age, according to a new study led by the University at Buffalo.
Research - June - Journal - Open - Quaternary
The research, which will be published on June 18 in the journal Open Quaternary, reports on the first known fossils of hyenas from the Arctic. The study and all information in this press release are embargoed until 6 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 18.
The study reveals that two ice age fossil teeth discovered in Yukon Territory in Canada belonged to the so-called "running hyena" Chasmaporthetes. The specimens, recovered in the 1970s, were tentatively thought to be from hyenas by previous paleontologists, but the new paper is the first to confirm the fossils' identity and report on them in detail, assigning them a genus based on comparisons to a global sample of hyena fossils.
Findings - Gap - Scientists - Knowledge - North
The findings fill an important gap in scientists' knowledge of how hyenas reached North America. Previously, Chasmaporthetes fossils had been found as far north as Mongolia in Asia and the southern United States in North America, with no sites in between.
"Fossils of this genus of hyenas had been found in Africa, Europe and Asia, and also in the southern United States. But where and how did these animals get to North America? The teeth we studied, even though they were just two teeth, start to answer those questions," says paleontologist Jack Tseng, Ph.D., the paper's first author and an assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
Ancient - Hyenas - North - America - Beringia
Ancient hyenas likely entered North America via Beringia, an area, including Alaska and Yukon Territory, that connects Asia with North America during...
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