The fossilized skull that has been linked to an ancient species of felines has been now identified correctly and tied to an ancestor of the modern wolverines, otters, and weasels.
Classified under the name of Corimictis wolsani, the species are thought to be the earliest mustelids to be found in North America, according to the new data gathered by the researchers. The mustelids is an umbrella term for a various family of carnivorous weasels, among which we can count badgers, wolverines and other creatures of this type.
It is now extinct, but C. wolsani could be found in the territory which comprises modern Oregon, where it lived approximately 26 million years ago. According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, the creature sported sharp teeth, which could have been even sharper than those encountered among weasels.
More about the ancient wolverine ancestor
Despite a skull that has a length of 4 centimeters (1.56 inches), C. wolsani was a surprisingly capable hunter, tracking down and eating a large selection of smaller land mammals like rabbits, land squirrels and gophers. Their reduced size offered a great advantage as they could go inside rodent holes to secure their prey.
The skull was found during the early 2000s in the John Day Formation, a site that is located in Oregon. Tests have shown that the skull has an age that may range from 28.8 million to 25.9 million years ago. It is important to mention the fact that the discovery is quite significant since it validates the presence of mustelid on the North American continent during the Early and Late Oligocene.
At first, the researchers who uncovered the fossil believed that they found the fossil of an ancient cat. Another researcher examined the fossil and found exciting traits, as the brain and the inner ears had interesting shapes. More data can be found in a paper published in a scientific journal.