Paleontologists Have Used The Modern Tools To Identify An Ancient Fragments

In 1973, a trainer named Joan Hodgins took her college students on a hike close to Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory. In the course of, she made history for this cold area.

Whereas the tailings left behind by a copper mine, Hodgins and her college students stumbled throughout several fragments of fossils — bits and items of what gave the impression to be tooth alongside pieces of bone.

The traditional fragments of the tooth have been so small and in such dangerous form that “most paleontologists could not have picked them up,” mentioned Jaelyn Eberle, a curator of fossil vertebrates on the College of Colorado Boulder’s Museum of Pure History.

However, Hodgins did. Now, greater than 40 years after the trainer’s fateful hike, a global crew led by Eberle used modern expertise to identify the origins of these enigmatic fossils.

In a research printed at present, Eberle and her colleagues report that the fossil tooth fragments got here from the jaw of a protracted-extinct cousin of at present’s rhinoceroses. This hefty animal might have tromped by way of the forests of Northwest Canada roughly 8 to 9 million years ago.

And it is a first: Earlier than the rhino discovery, paleontologists had not discovered a single fossil vertebrate courting again to this time interval within the Yukon.

“Within the Yukon, we now have truckloads of fossils from ice age mammals like woolly mammoths, historic horses, and ferocious lions,” stated Grant Zazula, a coauthor of the brand new research and Yukon Government paleontologist. “However, that is the primary time we now have any proof for ancient mammals, like rhinos, that pre-date the ice age.”

It is a hole in the fossil record that scientists have been eager to fill.