In France, found the lower jaw of a giant amphicyonid

(ORDO NEWS) — Today in France you will not find a predator larger than a wolf, but almost 12 million years ago, a predatory mammal the size of a bear roamed there, with powerful jaws capable of crushing bones.

Once upon a time, Amphicyonids , or bear dogs (Amphicyonidae), roamed our planet – very successful predators, which are only distant relatives of modern carnivorous mammals.

Some amphicyonids were distinguished by their massive build and impressive dimensions: the North American amphicyon of the species Amphicyon ingens weighed half a ton.

The new species of amphicyonids, which lived in Western Europe in the middle Miocene , was somewhat smaller: its weight is estimated at “only” 200 kilograms, which is comparable to the mass of a large male black bear ( Ursus americanus ).

Judging by the physique of its closest relatives, it was a massive animal, more like a bear than a wolf, with a large head, muscular limbs and a long tail.

The new species was named Tartarocyon cazanavei , or Kazanava’s tartarocion – in honor of Tartaro, the cannibal giant from Basque mythology, and Alain Kazanave , owner of the land in the Atlantic Pyrenees, which was excavated.

Of particular interest to the find is the fact that not so many fossils of extinct animals were found in the north of France, so even a single lower jaw of tolerable preservation is already an achievement for French paleontology.

Judging by the anatomy of the close relatives of the tartarocion, this animal was a master in butchering large carcasses: like today’s bears, which never refuse carrion, the ancient bear dog easily tore even the densest skin and crushed bones, so it could feast on the meat of whales and seals thrown ashore.

In France found the lower jaw of a giant amphicyonid 2
Tartarocion jaw with preserved teeth

Unfortunately, we still know too little about the environment in which the tartarocion lived and what animals it could hunt: its broken lower jaw is the only fossil of a large animal that ended up in the hands of scientists, so French paleontologists will have to do new excavations – and, quite perhaps more discoveries.


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