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The Ghostly Origins of the Big Cats

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 Archeology / Paleontology   |   Biology   |   Science
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All of todays big cat species evolved less than 11 million years ago and yet their evolutionary history remains an almost total mystery. But scientists have recently discovered a major clue about the origins of the big cats, one that could provide a whole new starting place for solving this puzzle.

Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the excellent Panthera blytheae and Panthera atrox! Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at http://alphynix.tumblr.com and http://nixillustration.com

Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: http://youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios

THANK YOU to our amazing Cenozoic Patreon patron, Patrick Seifert!!

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References:
Tseng, Z. J. et al. (2014). Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20132686.
Johnson, W. et al. (2006). The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: a genetic assessment. Science 311: 73-77.
Davis, B. et al. (2010). Supermatrix and species tree methods resolve phylogenetic relationships within the big cats, Panthera (Carnivora: Felidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56: 64-76.
Turner, A. and Antn, M. (1997). The big cats and their fossil relatives. New York: Columbia University Press.
Werderlin, L. and Lewis, M.E. (2005). Plio-Pleistocene Carnivora of eastern Africa: species richness and turnover patterns. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 144: 121144.
Zhou Y. et al. (2017). Comprehensive species set revealing the phylogeny and biogeography of Feliformia (Mammalia, Carnivora) based on mitochondrial DNA. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0174902.

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