Guest Videos: Pangur Bán and Pangurban

Pangur Bán means “white bán,” according to Dr. Wikipedia.

The particular cat it refers to owned a loving, insightful human and lived in Europe around 950 AD.

Pangurban is somewhat older.

Thirty-seven to forty million years ago, this newly described nimravid prowled through a part of North America that is now called San Diego, California.

The discovery of Pangurban egiae has not yet made headline news, and videos of it are hard to find.

Here is one that shows the study’s lead author — Dr. Ashley Poust — talking about something else, several months ago: how extinct cats help us understand the world.

He also describes the prehistoric setting. It makes me wonder if, like the macheroidines that Dr. Poust mentions (including Diegoaelurus), Pangurban the nimravid also scavenged along the beaches.

I’ve started this video at the point where he begins talkng about cats; there is more general mention of evolution earlier, if you want to watch the whole thing at YouTube.

And the colorful peak-like graph he shows towards the end is an adaptive landscape — one of those key concepts we run into when trying to see how cats evolved (and one that’s difficult to translate into simple words…sigh. I’m still working on it.)

Watching Dr. Poust deliver this talk, it’s easy to understand why his team named the cat-like fossil “Pangurban”:

“The name for the animal came directly from my time as an English minor at Augustana. I took a number of classes from Dr. McDowell and in one of them we learned about the 9th century poem “Pangur Bán,” about a monk and his cat,” Dr. Poust said.

“I have never lost my love for literature and history, kindled at Augustana. Fast-forward more than a decade and my co-authors and I were able to name this new species Pangurban after that same literary cat.”

Rock Island Today

I love it when science and the humanities cross paths.

Featured image: Victoria Smolina/Shutterstock

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