World's oldest known human ancestor was 'threatened by sabre tooth cats'

London, Jan 4 (ANI): A team of palaeontologists has come to the conclusion that the world's oldest known human ancestor was threatened by sabretooth species.

The team from Poitier University have identified two new sabretooth species among fossils unearthed at Toros Menalla in Chad. And in 2001, they had unearthed seven million year old remains of 'Toumai', believed to be the oldest hominid known to science.

Researchers have discovered the fossilised remains of a wide variety of carnivorous mammals at Toros Menalla; these predators must have posed a constant threat to primates like Toumai.

Palaeontologists had already reported finding remains of a large sabretooth cat from Toros Menalla known as Machairodus kabir, which weighed in at 350-490kg.

Louis de Bonis from Poitiers University and colleagues add two new sabretooth species to the growing list of carnivores that lived in this region.

Patrick Vignaud, director of Poitier University's Institute of Palaeo-primatology and Human Palaeontology, said that the cats were as big as modern lions.

"Sabretooths hunted all mammals; bovids, equids... and primates. The interactions were also more 'psychological', exercising a stress on potential prey. We can't prove it but it's probably important because in that case, primates had to live near closed environments like gallery forest," the BBC quoted him as saying.

The study has been published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol. (ANI)

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