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Science Tuesday: New York's First Ice Age Predator

Ice Age Bear Vertebra (anterior)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (anterior)

Predators are important parts of ecosystems, and while we know species like dire wolves and saber-toothed cats lived elsewhere, there are currently no published records of Ice Age predator fossils having been found in New York. One reason for this is that predators are represented by significantly fewer individuals in ecosystems than their prey, so there is less of a probability of their remains being both preserved and discovered.

The NYSM’s curator of Ice Age animals recently had a piece of a bear vertebra from Orange County, NY, carbon dated and the results were both literally and figuratively “cool”, showing that this bear lived right at the end of the last Ice Age, about 13,000 years ago. This is the first definitively dated Ice Age predator known from the state. Fossils like this from the NYSM’s Vertebrate Paleontology Collection are being used to understand how New York's modern mammal communities developed over the last 20,000 years.

For more information about the NYSM's Vertebrate Paleontology Collection, visit: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/paleontology/vertebrate-paleontology/collections

 

Ice Age Bear Vertebra (anterior)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (anterior)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (posterior)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (posterior)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (side a)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (side a)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (side b)
Ice Age Bear Vertebra (side b)