Fossils found in Polk County yield new species of cat - FOX 13 News

Fossils found in Polk County yield new species of cat

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FT. MEADE (FOX 13) -

When Barbara Fite retired from being a school counselor, she looked around for an interesting hobby. Little did she know that the one she would choose would make her famous one day.

Fite became an avid fossil hunter. Twenty three years ago, while she was digging near Fort Meade in Polk County, she came across a jawbone.

University of Florida scientists checked it out, but didn't make a big deal over it. Nine years ago, Fite found another jawbone just like the first one. On second look, they said she had discovered a new species of sabertooth cat, and name it after her.

It is now known as Rhizosmilodon fiteae.

"It's kind of interesting to know you are going to be immortalized in a name," Fite said.

Experts say the cat probably looked similar to a jaguar, but was smaller and lived five million years ago.

If finding one new species isn't a big enough accomplishment, Fite says she has found another new species, but is not ready to talk about it.

If all this talk about discovering new species has whet your taste for adventure, you might want to check out www.tampabayfossilclub.com

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