Giant Beaver Teeth, Fang from Scimitar Cat among Finds in North Yukon

Sunday, July 29, 2018

American Scimitar Cat

Annual summer camp on Old Crow River digs up a treasure trove of Ice Age bones.

People working at the Yukon paleontology program's summer camp on the Old Crow River this summer have collected hundreds of kilograms of Ice Age bones.

The biggest find was a fang from a scimitar cat, said Yukon government paleontologist Grant Zazula.

"It was a lower fang, probably the first one ever discovered in Canada, so we're super excited," he said.

Zazula said four paleontologists, two Vuntut Gwitchin youth research assistants and two German filmmakers working on a documentary were at the weeklong camp in mid-July, on a river bar not far from Old Crow.

Some of the other discoveries include teeth from five-feet-tall beavers.

Paleontologist Grant Zazula says this may be the first lower fang of a scimitar cat ever found in Canada. (Grant Zazula/Yukon Government)

"When you see their teeth, they're six inches long, they're incredible," Zazula said.

He said scientists have been coming to the Old Crow area for about 100 years because of the research opportunities.

"The Old Crow River is a pretty amazing thing in that as it's flowing, it's eroding banks along the river," said Zazula.

"It erodes fossils out of the banks and then deposits them down on the river bars and along the rivers, and so we can boat up and down and we stop along the river and collect bones."

Old Crow is busy in the summer with researchers in the area studying climate change, he said, as well as archeologists and others conducting oral history interviews with residents.