New mammal fossil unearthed in coal mine

A new, extinct species has been unearthed in a Thai coal mine.

The fossilised jaw of a tiny primate that existed around 35 million years ago has been uncovered in the Krabi coal mine, according to Live Science.

The species, which has been dubbed Krabia Minuta after the mine where it was found, is part of a group called anthropoids, which includes the ancestors of all primates.

It was uncovered by Jean-Jacques Jaeger, a paeleontologist from the Université de Poitiers in France.

Jaeger's team not only discovered this new species, after unearthing part of its jaw and teeth, but have also found a number of other fossils, including a 10 kilogram anthropoid known as Siamopithecus.

Earlier this year BHP and Mitsui opened their doors to Australian fossil hunters, as paelontologists headed to the South Walker Creek mine.

The site is believed to be the former territory of Australian megafauna – massive creatures that stalked the earth such as sheep sized echidnas, a two metre tall wombat and a seven metre goanna.

Since the operation initially came across a fossiled bone, which was later found out to be a Pallimnarchus, an extinct relative of the crocodile, the miner has partnered with the museum to excavate the site.

It has since uncovered never before seen fossils.

Fellow Queensland miner Xstrata has also worked closely with scientists to uncover new fossils.

In 2011 its Mt Isa operation was awarded the Riversleigh Society Medal for its support of fossil research.

Mining machinery manufacturer Atlas Copcohas also played a major part in dinosaur discovery.

In the 1980s it had a dinosaur, Atlascopcosaurus, named after the company after Atlas provided the equipment for the dig.

Image:  Mission Paléontologique Franco-Myanmar (MPFM)

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