New discovery of panda species which may have been Europe's last
A set of fossil teeth discovered in a museum recently revealed when pandas last visited Europe.
When researchers studied the teeth, which had been stored for about 40 years, they discovered
They determined the remains belonged to a previously unknown species of ancient European panda.
The last of Europe's pandas, a near cousin of current giant pandas, inhabited the continent roughly 6 million years ago.
"Although not a direct ancestor of the modern genus of the giant panda, it is its close relative," explains the Museum's Professor Nikolai Spassov
Because the teeth were never properly catalogued, they were kept untreated for decades.
The coal deposits where the teeth were discovered, which have given them a dark colour, indicate that this ancient panda lived in wooded, marshy areas.
Most European panda species had smaller teeth than current giant pandas.
Ailurarctos, a fossil discovered in China, became the oldest known panda fossil, estimated to be 7 or 8 million years old.