Fossil of bone-crushing mammal a first in the US Northwest

(Information from: The Bulletin,

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Scientists say a fossil jaw bone misidentified for 50 years turns out to belong to a bone-crushing mammal and is the first to be found in the Northwest.

Scientists tell the Bend Bulletin in a story on Friday that the 40-million-year-old fossil discovered at the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon is from a Harpagolestes.

That’s a hoofed mammal that’s a cross between a pig and a hyena.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Chief Paleontologist Nicholas Famoso says scientists previously thought the fossil was from a polar bear-like creature.

He says a University of Oregon paleontology student, Selina Robson, started investigating after becoming convinced the fossil was misidentified.

Famoso says he wants to examine other fossils in the University of Oregon collection so see if they’re also misidentified.