Giant 'lion' fossil from 20 million years ago found in museum cabinets in Kenya | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

22 May, Wednesday


Giant 'lion' fossil from 20 million years ago found in museum cabinets in Kenya

Fossils of ancient beast unearthed from storage turned out to be a new species

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A giant lion-like carnivore with enormous fangs that roamed the Kenyan savannah more than 20 million years ago was one of the largest ever meat-eating mammals, researchers said on Thursday.

A team unearthed the lower jaw, teeth and other bones of a new species, Simbakubwa kutokaafrika – Swahili for "big African lion" – after a biologist found the fossils in storage.

Ohio University biologist Nancy Stevens found them in wooden cabinets on the top floor of a Nairobi museum in 2010.

The team calculated it would have weighed up to 1,500 kilograms and could have preyed on the elephant-like creatures that lived there at the time.

The team behind the study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, said Simbakubwa lived in what is modern-day Kenya about 23 million years ago, a key period in the evolution of carnivorous mammals.

They said the discovery could shed light on how super-sized predators and prey evolved over millions of years about the end of the Palaeogene epoch, in which mammals grew from tiny rodents into many diverse species.

The research said the fossils were excavated around 1980 in western Kenya and never closely examined.

The National

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