Oldest Tiger-like Skull Yet—Hints Evolution Got It Right From Start
Fossil mini "tiger" skull is "surprisingly similar" to modern tigers'.
(Related: "Ancient Cheetah Fossil Points to Old World Roots?")
Paleontologists in 2004 discovered the remarkably complete skull in eastern China. Now an international group of researchers has teased out the specimen's age and its place on the feline evolutionary tree.
The head is as big as that of a very large modern jaguar's. But the teeth and other skeletal features make it most similar to the skulls of tigers, the largest living big cats. Siberian, or amur, tigers, for example—the world's largest cats—stretch about 11 feet (3.3 meters) long and weigh in at about 660 pounds (300 kilograms). (Pictures: "Toygers" vs. Tigers.)
"The skull is smashed a bit, but it's still really beautiful. I'd love to see it in person,"