The skull fragments of the newly-named Panthera blytheae have been dated between 4.1 and 5.95 million years old.
Their discovery in Tibet supports the theory that big cats evolved in central Asia - not Africa - and spread outward.
The findings by US and Chinese palaeontologists are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.
End Quote Dr Jack Tseng University of Southern California
This ties up a lot of questions we had on how big cats evolved and spread throughout the world”