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'Fabulous' fossils unearthed in a garbage dump

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Fewer places are less welcoming than a garbage dump on a frigid night. But that’s where paleontologist Josep Robles found himself on the hunt for rare clues to human evolutionary history.

For much of the past couple of months, he’d spent several nights a week at the Abocador de Can Mata, the largest active landfill in the Catalonia region of Spain. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, excavators had been plunging their metal claws into the earth in a rush to create yet another deep pit to hold trash from Barcelona and its surroundings. 


The fossil gold mine in the garbage dump has yielded more than 85 mammal species that lived alongside these prehistoric primates.

One recent find is a Chalicotherium, a tall, clawed ungulate that looks like a bizarre mix of giant sloth, bear, horse, and gorilla. Another is a false saber-toothed cat, so called because it’s not a true felid, the family that includes lions and tigers. Instead, it belonged to a family of carnivores that diverged from the ancestors of felids perhaps 40 million years ago.

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The fossils all date to an important transitional period from the middle to the late Miocene, when the region’s subtropical rainforests were becoming more arid and grasslands expanded. The scientists are using these finds to help reconstruct Can Mata’s environmental changes over about a million years, in time slices of 100,000 years. That resolution is possible because Can Mata has a long, continuous geological record.

“It’s several hundreds of meters of sediments, all with fossils,” says ICP’s Casanovas-Vilar. This work is just beginning, but the researchers hope to illuminate the local impact of global climate change—in both the past and the present.


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It's really rude of them to barge into my home like that and put me up as if I'm some specimen :bear:

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I need something inspiring to help me get along... I need a little fabulous is that so wrong?

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1 hour ago, Pennywise said:

It's really rude of them to barge into my home like that and put me up as if I'm some specimen :bear:


My biggest enemy is me pop a 911
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  • 2 weeks later...

The fossils waiting to be picked up like -


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