Fossil of bone-crushing mammal a first in the US Northwest

NASA Space and Science
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A fossil jaw bone misidentified for 50 years turns out to belong to a bone-crushing mammal and is the first to be found in the Northwest, scientists said.

Scientists tell the Bend Bulletin in a story on Friday that the 40-million-year-old fossil discovered at the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon is from a Harpagolestes. That’s a hoofed mammal that’s a cross between a pig and a hyena.

“Imagine a pig that specializes in eating only bones,” said John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Chief Paleontologist Nicholas Famoso.

He said scientists previously thought the fossil was from a polar bear-like creature.

University of Oregon paleontology student, Selina Robson, started investigating after becoming convinced the fossil was misidentified.

“We weren’t expecting her to say: ‘This isn’t what you think it is,'” Famoso said.

Fossils from the mammal have also been found in the Rocky Mountains and Southern California.

“They behaved like hyenas,” Famoso said. “They were running around Oregon being the first animals chewing on bones.”

The fossil sat for five decades in the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The school and national monument are considering putting it on display at the museum and making a replica to display at the national monument.

Famoso said he wants to examine other fossils in the University of Oregon collection to see if they’re also misidentified.

“It definitely warrants reviewing some of the specimens we already have,” he said. “We need to double check.”


Information from: The Bulletin,

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383

Don’t Miss

Sunday Service
Best of the Valley
Sunday Morning Matters
MedWatch Today
Hispanic Heritage
The Valley's Armenia
Pros Who Know

Images from Armenia

Small patients in Armenia
Yerevan by night.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers in Gyumri.
Doctors unpack medical supplies from The Central Valley.
Fresno Medical Mission at work.
Medical Supplies being unloaded.
Fresno Medical Mission at the ready.
KSEE24 crew witnesses the miracle of life in Gyumri, Armenia.
Life saving work of Central Valley surgeons in Armenia.
Ribbon cutting on new surgical center in Ashtarak Armenia. Fresno donors made this dream come true.
KSEE24 on assignment with the Fresno Medical Mission
Honorary Consulate to Armenia Berj Apkarian explains the crisis facing one hospital.
KSEE24's Stefani Booroojian and Kevin Mahan at the meeting with President Bako Sahakyan.
Medical Meeting in Artsakh.
The President of Artsakh meets with the Fresno Medical Mission.
Learning modern medicine techniques with the Fresno Medical Mission in surgery.
Leaning in for a look. Dr. Brien Tonkinson holds class and helps a patient in Armenia.
Fresno Medical Mission cares on one of the smallest patients in the region. Six-year old Yanna receives life-changing better breathing surgery.