Live reconstruction with multiple outcomes - Panthera palaeosinenisis,


The  life reconstructions of the extinct species are often of subject of a discussion as to whether they are "scientifically" correct or not. Since the reconstructions are bound to the science, the  reality is that the "scientific correctness" is a relative and temporary. Something considered correct today with accumulation of additional data can turn out to be wrong tomorrow. But also using different types of analysis one can get different results when studying one and the same object and by all standards (used data,  methods etc), all of the results, despite being different can be accepted as valid.  
Here is an example, a reconstruction of the Chinese Plio- Pleistocene fossil Pantherine cat Panthera palaeosinenisis, which I made few years ago in two different variants.
Panthera palaeosinensis is a fossil Pantherine cat, (one of the 3 known complete and not-too much-deformed skulls of fossil middle-sized Pantherines besides leopards (and the Lujanian jaguars of South America). The species is described by Otto Zdanski in 1924 and it is considered to be of the Plio-Pleistocene age. 
The first comprehensive analysis of the systematic relationships of P. palaeosinensis to the other Pantherine cats was performed by the famous German cat expert Helmuth Hemmer (Hemmer 1967). His results showed that P. palaeosinensis is a primitive tiger. (So the left pathway of the reconstruction of P. palaeosinensis I did is based on Hemmer's results.) Much later in 2009 a Chinese zoologist, who adopted the name of the famous Czechoslovakian tiger specialist Vartislav Mazak, J. H. Mazak performed another type of analysis on P. palaeosinensis skull and his results were quite different from the results that Helmuth Hemmer got nearly 50 year ago. J. H. Mazak has concluded that P. palaeosinenisis is a species close to leopards and lions, but not to the tiger. Hence the right pathway (variant) of the reconstruction. My own view on the subject tends to agree with Mazak's view, but by all standards Hemmer's arguments are valid as well. From scientific point of view doing life reconstructions can be a work with more than one, equally scientifically sound outcomes. 
 

Mazak J. H. 2009 What is Panthera palaeosinensis? Mammal Review

Hemmer H. 1967  Wohin gehört “Felis” palaeosinensis Zdansky, 1924, in systematischer hinsicht? Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie. Stuttgart. Abhandlungen 129: 83–96.
 

Zdansky O. 1924 Jungtertiäre Carnivoren Chinas. Palaeontologia Sinica 2: 1–49.

 

Two possible variants of the external apperance of Panthera paleosinensis

Two possible variants of the external apperance of Panthera paleosinensis