Tuesday, October 17, 2006
First new fossil mammal from the Philippines in 50 years:
Chicago, Illinois - Almost 50 years ago, Michael Armas, a mining engineer from the central Philippines, discovered some fossils in a tunnel he was excavating while exploring for phosphate. Forty years later, Dr. Hamilcar Intengan, a friend of his who now lives in Chicago, recognized the importance of the bones and donated them to The Field Museum.
If not for the attention and foresight of these two individuals, science might never have documented what has turned out to be an extremely unusual species of dwarf water buffalo, now extinct.
The new species, described in the October issue of the Journal of Mammalogy, has been named Bubalus cebuensis (BOO-buh-luhs seh-boo-EN-sis) after the Philippine island of Cebu, where it was found. Its most distinctive feature is its small size. While large domestic water buffalo stand six feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, B. cebuensis would have stood only two-and-one-half feet and weighed about 350 pounds.
B. cebuensis, which evolved from a large-sized continental ancestor to dwarf size in the oceanic Philippines, is the first well-supported example of 'island dwarfing' among cattle and their relatives.
"Natural selection can produce dramatic body-size changes. On islands where there is limited food and a small population, large mammals often evolve to much smaller size," said Darin Croft (homepage), lead author of the study and a professor of anatomy at Case Western Reserve University.
Continued at "Fossils: New dwarf buffalo discovered by chance in the Philippines"
Based on "Fossil Remains of a New, Diminutive Bubalis (Artiodactyla:Bovidae:Bovini) from Cebu Island, Philippines" (Abstract)
[Island Rule, Palaeontology, Paleontology, Science, Evolution]
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