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Leopard fossil found in northern Italy

The ancient shinbone of a leopard has been found on the banks of a river in northern Italy.

Leopards may have roamed across Italy alongside Neanderthals, a new study finds.

Scientists analyzed an ancient, well-preserved bone discovered by amateur scientist Renato Bandera in the summer of 2014 and donated to the Paleoanthropological Museum of Po in San Daniele Po, Italy. The gray-brown fossil was the slender right shinbone of a leopard, and was found along the right bank of the Po River in northern Italy, near the harbor entrance of the city of Cremona.

The region where this bone was discovered is well-known for its fossils. Other bones from this site have suggested that the area was once home to straight-tusked elephants, steppe bison, woolly mammoths, giant deer, rhinos and elk. However, fossils of carnivores such as bears, wolves, hyenas, foxes — and now, leopards — are very rare.

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Story: Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience | Photo: Emiliano Troco

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