Fossils that were dug up in June in the hills of north Las Vegas, have been identified as the front leg bones from a Saber-toothed cat by a team from California’s San Bernardino County Museum.
According to Kathleen Springer, the museum’s senior curator, the saber-tooth fossils are thought to be approximately 15,590 years old.
The team has been studying the fossil-rich hills in Upper Las Vegas Wash for “Ice Age” fossils from the Pleistocene Epoch for over a decade. They have been collecting fossils there under a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management since 2008.
Springer said that the bones belonging to the extinct animal is the only known fossil found from a saber-tooth tiger in the Las Vegas area and are still being studied.
The team has found thousands of different kinds of fossils, but the Saber-toothed tiger has been the hardest to find, until now. The initial discovery was made in 2003, during a survey conducted by scientists from the California museum that identified over 400 previously-unknown fossil sites in the upper Las Vegas Wash, according to Highland News.
“We’re ecstatic,” Kathleen Springer told the San Bernardino County Sun. “We’ve been saying for years that these critters were out here, somewhere. It was just a matter of time until we found one.”
Paleontologist Eric Scott, Curator of Paleontology and discoverer of the fossils added, “I hate to say we hit the jackpot, this being Vegas – but we did!” He went on to explain, “Meat-eaters are generally uncommon in the fossil record. In living communities, carnivores are far outnumbered by plant-eaters. The same holds true for past ecosystems. This makes fossil remains of extinct carnivores very rare and special – and very tough to find.”
“We’re establishing a tight radiocarbon chronology for the entire Tule Springs region and that work allows us to place individual fossils into our temporal framework. This is essential for understanding how living communities responded to environmental changes through time,” says Springer.
She says that there are no immediate plans to put them on display, but she expects that they will eventually be displayed.
Saber tooth fossil found
3D Printing of Fossil Bones Will Help Paleontologists Build a Robot Dinosaur
Scientists Find Oldest Human Skull Pieces in Southeast Asia
Turtle Fossil Discovered in Colombia Mine, Puentemys Mushaisaensis
Dinosaur Eggs and Bones from 70-million Years Ago Found in Patagonia