BBC News: Ancient polar bear jawbone found

A bit of geeking. This is really interesting news (emphasis mine):

Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 17:19 GMT

Ancient polar bear jawbone found
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

What may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic.

The jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old.

Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female.

The find is a surprise because polar bears are a relatively new species, with one study claiming they evolved less than 100,000 years ago.

If the Svalbard jawbone’s status is confirmed, and further discoveries can show the iconic Arctic beasts have a deeper evolutionary heritage, then the outlook for the animals may be more positive than some believe.

(read on…)

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