Fossil of a nine million-year-old giraffe discovered in Madrid

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Reconstruction of Decennatherium rex

PALEONTOLOGISTS working at a dig near to Madrid have discovered an almost complete fossil of what is a European ancestor of the giraffe.

Believed to have lived about nine million years ago, this and three other less complete fossils are part of the Decennatherium rex species which stood about three metres tall.

The discovery is important as it adds considerably to scientific knowledge of the evolution of the giraffe and as fossils of both male and females were found, there is also an opportunity to learn more about this extinct European species.

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Although most people consider that the length of the neck is the most distinguishable feature of the giraffe, the bones on the head are equally important and in the case of this new fossil it could be seen that there are two pairs of ‘horns’ rather than the one pair appearing on the modern giraffe.

The discovery which was revealed in the scientific journal PLOS One was made by a team led by Dr Maria Rios and her team from the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSIC in Madrid.

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