Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Scientists discover prehistoric porcupine tooth in cave

The tooth of a 120,000-year-old porcupine has been found eight feet below the surface in a cave near the town of Asha, on the border between the Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions.

Pavel Kosintsev, the head of the paleoecology lab at the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, said on January 15 that the discovery turns existing knowledge of prehistoric wildlife in the Urals on its head, Russia Beyond the Headlines reports.

"Before this discovery, no scientist had been able to find any facts to prove that porcupines inhabited the Urals. It was presumed that, in prehistoric times, the animals lived much farther to the south of the Ural Mountains," Kosintsev said, Russia Beyond the Headlines reports. "Our discovery, however, proves otherwise. The climate in the Urals over 100,000 years ago appears to have been much milder than scientists tend to describe it. There were broadleaved forests in the area, much like those around Kiev. In addition to wolves and bears, the woods were also home to porcupines."

The specimen and others from the cave will be used by scientists to reconstruct the prehistoric climate of the Ural Mountains with more precision, helping them better understand how climate changed from millennium to millennium and what factors drove this change.