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Paleontologists unearth saber-toothed fossil in Tule Springs

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Updated: 12/10/2012 5:55 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- The Tule Springs Fossil Bed has unearthed yet another Ice Age beast, this one a predator. Paleontologists from the San Bernadino County Museum have uncovered fossils from a saber-toothed tiger.

The museum’s curator, Kathleen Springer, says it’s basically the bent leg of the large cat when it died, and the two bones are dated at about 15,000 years old.

This is the first time fossils from a saber-toothed tiger have been found in the Las Vegas area.

This is exciting news to Helen Mortenson who is working to open an Ice Age Park near the Tule Springs Fossil Bed.

“We're so delighted that the saber-toothed tiger was found in this area, on this rich, rich fossil site,” Mortenson said.

The saber-toothed tiger is about six feet long and would have weighed nearly 1,000 pounds. This predator is just one of many Ice Age fossils discovered in Tule Springs. Fossils have already been found from enormous size animals including the Columbian Mammoth, and American Lion which is larger than the African Lion we know.

Conservation groups are thrilled this discovery could help their efforts to make Tule Springs Fossil Beds a national monument.

Legislation has already been introduced to Congress, but it has been stalled. Supporters believe a new Congress may reintroduce a bill to push it forward in January.

“What it means is that more and more awareness of fossils in the area, the more increased need to see it protected,” said Lynn Davis, Nevada Field Office Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.

Meanwhile Helen Mortenson believes there may be more fossils from saber-toothed tigers out there.
“If you find one you know you must have had a mate,” Mortenson said.

The curator and paleontologist in charge of this particular dig will be in Las Vegas Saturday at the Nevada State Museum as part of a 50 year anniversary of Tule Springs “Big Dig.” The event is free, but you must RSVP at 702-822-8735.

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