Oldest big cat
In a 2013 paper, researchers reported on the discovery the oldest known big cat.
The cat was found in the Kiang Valley in Tibet.
Layers of rock have revealed a trove of fossils.
The skull emerges
In 2010, the team, led by Z. Jack Tseng, uncovered the skull of a an ancient pantherine.
By analyzing the orientation of magnetic minerals in the nearby rock, the team was able to determine that the cat lived between 5.9 and 4.1 million years ago.
Follow-up trips revealed several more fossils fro the ancient cat.
Here, the researchers excavate at the site.
Despite living at least 4 million years ago, the ancient cat didn't look too different from living big cats such as snow leopards.
The hole where the cat skull was found also contained about 120 other fossils comprising 16 mammal species and one bird.
Here the team unearths the fossils.
By analyzing the bones and comparing it to living and extinct cats, as well as by using genetic data, the team estimates that all cats diverged about 16 million years ago.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.