Saturday, February 26, 2005

New Miocene “Bear-Dog” found in California

California's San Joaquin Valley that has produced the remains of a new genus of mustelid, the mammalian family that includes modern badgers and skunks.
"It just blew me out of my mind," Xiaoming Wang, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said after seeing the fossil of the badger-like animal. "It looks like it was very ferocious."

A team led by paleontologist J.D. Stewart recovered bones from 25 species of vertebrates, as well as birds and snails, that date to roughly 15 million years ago. The best-preserved 1,200 specimens now make up a permanent collection at the University of California, Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology.

The dig is a legacy of California's power crisis of 2000-2001. The fossils were unearthed during construction of new electricity transmission lines at the so-called Path 15, the infamous utility bottleneck in the state's north-south electricity conduit near Los Banos