“Tibet should not be used for the production of nuclear weapons and the dumping of nuclear waste. Tibetans have a great respect for all forms of life. This inherent feeling is enhanced by our Buddhist faith, which prohibits the harming of all sentient beings, whether human or animal. Prior to the Chinese invasion, Tibet was a fresh, beautiful, unspoiled wilderness sanctuary in a unique natural environment. Sadly, during the last few decades, the wildlife of Tibet has been most totally destroyed and, in many places, irreparable damage has been done to its forests. The overall effect on Tibet’s delicate environment has been devastating – particularly since the country’s altitude and aridity mean that the process of restoring vegetation will take much longer than in lower, wetter regions. For this reason, what little is left must be protected and efforts made to reverse the effects of China’s iniquitous and wanton destruction of the Tibetan environment.”
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama Global Environmental Global Environmental Forum for the Next Generation in Tokyo, Japan on April 6, 2015.
Scientists of the Sino-American Expedition to Zanda Basin examine emerging fossils from a rich site that produced the oldest known big cat fossil.
Researchers on a fossil-hunting expedition to the Himalayan mountains in Tibet have brought back what is believed to be the oldest big cat fossil ever found. The fossil, which represents a previously unknown extinct species called Panthera blyteae, suggests that big cats similar to the modern snow leopard lived in Asia around 6 million years ago, Nature reported. That’s close to 2 million years earlier than suggested by previous fossils.
The fossil supports the hypothesis that members of the pantherineae subfamily — including tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards — originated in Asia before diverging from their smaller cousins — like cougars, lynxes, and domestic cats, the BBC reported. The fossil also helped the team estimate the date of origin for all cats to about 16 million years ago. “This cat is a sister of living snow leopards — it has a broad forehead and a short face,” study author Dr. Jack Tseng, of the University of Southern California and the American Museum of Natural History, told the BBC. “But it’s a little smaller — the size of clouded leopards. This ties up a lot of questions we had on how these animals evolved and spread throughout the world.”
Working in a rocky area in the Tibetan Plateau, the team found part of the cat’s lower jaw first, then gradually uncovered the skull. After a painstaking removal process, the bones were transported back to Los Angeles. Not wanting to put his precious discovery at the mercy of baggage handlers, Tseng brought the bones home in his carry-on bag, National Geographic reported. “Fossils of big cats are rare at the best of times, and all are exciting,” Lars Werdelin, senior curator at Sweden’s Natural History Museum and an expert in feline fossils, told National Geographic. “But this is especially so, as the fossils are so old and are unusually complete. Even a partial skull can tell us a lot more about the animal than did the few bits and pieces of the earliest big cats found previously.”
Tibet Environmental Watch http://tew.org