Jaguar: First Fossil Record in Argentina’s North-east

Universidad Nacional del Nordeste - Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales y Agrimensura

September 01, 2014 | 3 ′ 6 ′′


Jaguar: First Fossil Record in Argentina’s North-east


Researchers identified a fossil oIder than 10 thousand years found in the province of Formosa, which constituted the first record of a jaguar in that zone of the country. Besides, it represents one of the best preserved skulls of the species. Due to its preservation state, the specialists estimate that the place of the finding wasn’t so far from the place where it died.

The remains were found in the rifts of river Bermejo near the town of General Mansilla, by the staff of the Natural Sciences Museum of Formosa.

Days after the finding, teachers and researchers of the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales y Agrimensura of the Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (UNNE) and of the Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral (UNNE-Conicet), who recognized the excellent preservation state of the remains.

According to what Alfredo Zurita, Alicia Lutz and Ángel Miño-Boilini, from the team of paleontologists of the UNNE, explained to Argentina Investiga, it was confirmed that the remains found are a skull, jaws, a vertebra and part of the humerus of a jaguar belonging to the current species Panthera onca.

“We have found an exceptional fossil finding, which constitutes the first fossil record of a jaguar in the north-east of the country” remarked Doctor Zurita and added that, at the same time, it represents one of the best preserved skulls known for this species.

A comparison made by the paleontologists of the UNNE between this skull and current jaguar skulls shows almost absolute morphological similarity. The skull, which is perfectly preserved, undoubtedly corresponds, according to Zurita, to an old jaguar, due to the teeth wearing away. “Its preservation state indicated that the place of the finding is not far away from the place of the death, 10 thousand years ago”. He said that it is a very interesting finding, as carnivorous fossil records are barely frequent.

However, the team of paleontologists of the UNNE remarked fossil levels of River Bermejo rifts in the province of Formosa, as a high number of quaternary mammal fossil remains have appeared. They are currently part of the collections of the Natural Sciences Museum of Villa Escolar.

Carbon-14 datings of the levels to which these fossil remains belong indicate 10 thousand years old, time during which the extinction of the largest mammals -megafauna- (some weighed more than 3 tons) which lived in this region and all South America, was near due to still unknown causes.

Juan Monzón Gramajo
monzongramajo@hotmail.com
José Goretta
Departamento de Comunicación Institucional


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