Fossils of the giant bear Agriotherium discovered in Lazio
The giant ‘short-faced’ bear Agriotherium also lived in Lazio, near modern Frosinone, more than 3 million years ago.
In the area of Collepardo, near Frosinone, researchers have found fossil remains of Agriotherium, a giant bear that lived in the Pliocene period more than 3 million years ago, one of the largest carnivorous mammals known ever to have existed.
The discovery was made by a team consisting of researchers at the Department of Earth Sciences and Polo museale of Sapienza University of Rome, who worked in collaboration with IGAG-CNR and the Italian Institute of Human Palaeontology.
The finds of this animal in Europe are very rare, mostly isolated teeth and incomplete mandibles of 4 of 5 specimens. The portion of the fossil mandible recovered in Collepardo was incorporated into a block of travertine along with the bones of other animals.
The fossil was digitally reconstructed using CT scans so that it could be studied without damaging it. The find, printed in 3D, is preserved in the PaleoFactory Laboratory of the Department of Earth Sciences at Sapienza directed by Raffaele Sardella.
“Agriotherium was a giant bear, over 2.5 m in length and around 900 kg in weight”, said Sardella. “It easily adapted to any environment and, as the study of the teeth has shown, it was omnivorous and also fed on large prey and carcasses”.
“This is an important discovery”, concluded Luca Bellucci from Polo museale Sapienza, “not only because it allowed us to identify the presence of this large carnivore in Italy, broadening our knowledge of its palaeogeographic distribution, but also because it allowed us to assign the site to an earlier date, so it is older than we thought it was”.