6 Mar 2013

Arctic camel fossils found

10:48 am on 6 March 2013

Canadian paleontologists have discovered the fossilised remains of a giant camel that lived in the Arctic some 3.5 million years ago, when the area was a boreal forest.

AAP reports 30 fragments of a tibia found on Ellesmere Island in the autonomous territory of Nunavut represent the northernmost fossils ever found of primitive camels, which first appeared in North America some 45 million years ago.

Details are in a study for the Canadian Museum of Nature that was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications.

Study leader Natalia Rybczynski said the discovery provides the first evidence of camels in the High Arctic of Canada and extends the range of camels in North America by 1200km to the north.

"This is a completely new way of thinking about the traits that we see in camels today," Rybczynski said.

AAP reports the fossils were found during field work in the summers of 2006, 2008 and 2010 in a mound on the site of Fyles Leaf Bed, a sandy deposit near Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island.

Plant fossils had been previously found there, but never a mammal