Fossils found in Romania reveal that large terrestrial monkeys and short-necked giraffes lived in Europe 2 million years ago
Fossils found in a paleontological site in Romania’s Valcea county and re-analyzed in the US have revealed that a wide diversity of animal species lived in Europe 2 million years ago, Hotnews.ro reported, quoting the University of Arkansas.
Species such as the large terrestrial monkey, short-necked giraffe, rhinos and saber-toothed cats roamed the open grasslands of Eastern Europe during the early Pleistocene.
A team from the University of Arkansas has been studying the Grăunceanu site on the Olteţ River Valley for eight years and says it is one of the most valuable in Europe.
Many Olteţ Valley fossil sites, including Grăunceanu, were discovered in the 1960s after landslides caused in part by deforestation due to increased agricultural activity in the area, the University of Arkansas explained.
Archeologists and paleontologists from the Emil Racoviţă Institute of Speleology in Bucharest excavated the sites and recovered the fossils. Scholarly publications about the sites flourished in the 1970s and 1980s. But then, interest in these sites was lost for 20-30 years and some of the fossils could no longer be found. Moreover, some of the Romanian researchers’ records of the excavations were lost.
However, since 2012, an international team of researchers from Romania, the United States, Sweden and France re-analyzed and re-cataloged the fossils stored in Bucharest. Their work has included extensive identification of fossils at the institute and additional field work.
“In addition to the species mentioned above, the researchers identified fossil remains of animals similar to modern-day moose, bison, deer, horse, ostrich, pig and many others. They also identified a fossil species of pangolin, which were thought to have existed in Europe during the early Pleistocene but had not been solidly confirmed until now,” the University of Arkansas said.
The researchers hope the fossils will provide clues about how and when early humans migrated to Eurasia from Africa, but could also help them to better understand future climate change.
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