Prehistoric bear-like beast discovered in North Dakota
May 24, 2007
The skeleton of a 60-million year old bear-like beat was discovered at an oil drilling site in the North Dakota Badlands, reports the Associated Press (A.P.).
State paleontologist John Hoganson said the titanoides fossil was discovered in late 2005 when an archaeologist was doing a survey for an oil well. He said the animals was about 5 feet long and weighed 200-300 pounds.
“It’s a very rare, extinct mammal,” Hoganson is quoted by the A.P. as saying. “They were about bear size, black bear size.”
Courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The titanoides lived in an environment much different than that of present day North Dakota.
“It was subtropical, for example, and it was a forested swampland. So during the time, it was somewhat similar to southern Florida today, and this titanoides actually lived in these forested habitats,” he told the A.P.
According to a study published in Science in November 2005, climate change 55 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) caused significant changes in forest composition and the distribution of mammals in North America. Temperatures rose by as much as 10 degrees in a relatively short period of time, helped bolster the “Age of Mammals,” which included the first appearance of modern primates. After an initial period of increasing aridity in northern latitudes like North Dakota, it appears that forests transitioned towards warm tropical ecosystems with closely spaced trees, ideal for the evolution of primates.
The article is based on an A.P. report and a previous mongabay.com article.