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Pandas may have originated in Spain

Nov 16 (): A Spanish researchers’ team has completed a study to connect the fossils which according to them are likely to be associated with giant panda.

Juan Abella, who led the study at Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences has found the fossils, which are expected to be about 11.5 to 12.5 million years old.

The fossils are found in north-eastern part of Spain. They consist of two adults. Last year, one fossil was described in Estudios Geologico, a journal, while the other was stated to have incomplete upper carnassial (large tooth) and broken mandible.

The team then examined these two sets of fossils and related them. Further, it was said the oldest fossils discovered in the family of panda were found in China. Those fossils were much younger, between 7.2 and 8.2 million years old.

However, there is doubt if the giant pandas developed in Spain and gradually they then relocated to China. Researchers said there is still need for some more extended study in this background.

“The record of fossil is fragmentary and it is difficult to state hundred percent sure that one fossil species was the direct ancestor of an existing one”, said Abella, while claiming that there are fair chances of other older panda relative fossils out there.

When this panda roamed about in Spain, the climatic conditions were more warm and humid, Abella said. This means there were plants and fruits in more abundance, which might have enabled ancient giant panda to include more plants in its diet.

Scientists are not very sure if bamboos were present at that time in their environment, but there might have been related plants linked with the humid climates, said Abella. She continued saying bears have been living at least for the last 11.5 million years in the Iberian Peninsula. Brown bears are still living in Spain’s northern mountains.

These findings might suggest a Western European origin for the giant panda family.