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Small pandas once roamed Spain

Researchers in Spain said that they found fossils of a panda-like bear that went extinct millions of years ago due to receding forests.

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Fossils of a giant panda were found in Spain, researchers say. Above: artist's conception of the panda cousin. (Agriarctos beatrix/Servicio de Informacion y Noticias Científicas (SINC)/Courtesy)

Panda fossils were found in northwest Spain said researchers.

Researchers at Spain's National Museum of Natural Sciences and the University of Valencia said that they found fossils of a panda-like bear that went extinct millions of years ago.

The species called Agriarctos beatrix is said to have been an omnivore and smaller than modern pandas to which it is genetically related.

The bear dwelled in forests and likely climbed trees.

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"This bear species was small, even smaller than the Sun bear -- currently the smallest bear species. It would not have weighed more than 60 kilos (130 pounds)," said paleobiologist Juan Abella, reported UPI.

"This fur pattern is considered primitive for bears, such as that of the giant panda whose white spots are so big that it actually seems to be white with black spots."

According to Phys Org, the bear, which lived about 11 million years ago, likely went extinct due to receding forests and drier, more open spaces.

The findings were recorded in the journal Estudios Geológicos.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120509/giant-pandas-once-roamed-spain