Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 9th, 2010
AOL News published their red panda fossil discovery article, based on Cryptomundo’s initial exclusive of the story.
Please see it here.
East Tennessee State Univ. Photo Lab
East Tennessee State University paleontologist Steven Wallace holds the skulls of a red panda fossil (left) and a modern red panda (right) on March 14, 2008.
Coleman visited the Gray Fossil Site about a week ago and was told of the discovery of a new red panda skull.
“They showed us different pits where they were digging for a crocodile, a rhino, tapirs and this one where they found the red panda,” he said.
Courtesy of Steven Wallace
Wallace holds a baby red panda during a panda workshop hosted by the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee on Aug. 17, 2008.
Lee Speigel ends the article, thusly:
“I think it’s groundbreaking because a lot of these animals are known from one area of the world. If all of a sudden they’re found in North America, it gives cryptozoologists a lot of hope that many of these species that we project as mostly Asian actually have a connection between the continents. One thing that I think people often forget is that, in cryptozoology, while a lot of people think there may be brand-new species, cryptozoologists are realistic [and] know that some of these [future discoveries of cryptids] may be relic survivors.”
But how exactly do we know if a 4½ million-year-old red panda was, well, red? Does Wallace and his team of paleontologists really know the color of the panda they just dug up?
“We don’t know it’s red. I’ve chosen to use the term red panda, rather than ‘lesser’ panda, because some people who work on red pandas get insulted if you call it a lesser panda.
“They feel that it’s not like it’s less important than a giant panda. They prefer to call it a red panda, so that’s the only reason I use that term — ours could have been any color.”
At 37, Wallace has many years of fossil discoveries ahead.
“Yeah, I like to tell people that I’ll retire long before we’re finished out here. The site is so big, I figure I’ll dig for the next few decades, and when I retire, they’ll still be digging here.
“We have this huge list of animals that we’ve already found, but the list of animals that we could find is just as big, and then, there’s always the surprises — I mean, I did not expect to find a panda or a Eurasian badger here. Who knows how many other surprises we’ll get out here.”
Coleman agrees this can only ultimately benefit science.
“I think for science and paleontology, finding another red panda in North America makes us aware that if they’ve only uncovered 1 percent of the animals at the site, what are they going to find when they keep digging? It’s quite exciting — they could have a whole range of new animals there.”
For the entire article, click here.