New Species Found In Thai Coal Mine

A handful of fossilized jawbones found in a Thai coal mine belong to a new species of prehistoric tarsier, scientists say.

Tarsiers are primates that share a similar ancestor with monkeys and humans. The big-eyed, nocturnal animals are today found typically in Southeast Asia.

The new species named Tarsius sirindhornae lived about 13 million years ago. Based on the fossil jaws, the entire animal would have weighed up to 6 ounces (180 grams), making it the largest known tarsier, said study leader Yaowalak Chaimanee, a geologist with Thailand's Department of Mineral Resources.

Chaimanee and her team newly found 18 jawbone fossils from the new species in an old coal mine in Lampang Province. Each jaw holds one to four small teeth.

Tarsiers were and still are pretty rare, she said, "so you can visualize to have 18 jaws is marvelous."
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