KIMBERLY – Grant County residents don’t have to go far to find ancient treasures.
A partial skull of a new fisher species – the earliest recorded one in the world – was recently found at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
The discovery, described in the current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, represents the earliest record of a fisher in the world. Between 7.05 and 7.3 million years old, this find is more than five million years earlier than other records of fishers in North America.
The living fisher is an elusive member of the weasel family that occurs across the northern United States and Canada, living in dense forest environments.
Fishers and their relatives have a relatively poor fossil record. Previously, the earliest known records of fishers in North America were from several places in the eastern United States, less than two million years old. Fisher fossils also have been found in China and Mongolia, some that may be almost as old as the John Day Fossil Beds find, but not well-dated.
Finds like this help paleontologists, who have been studying the John Day Basin for nearly 150 years, better reconstruct past environments.
The specimen will go on display at the John Day Fossil Beds’ Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, on Highway 19 about 10 miles south of Kimberly.
For more information about the John Day Fossil Beds, visit online at http://www.nps.gov/joda/, or call 541-987-2333.Read more on bluemountaineagle.com.