Huge “dog-bears” populated the Pyrenees 12 million years ago

Better known as bear-dogs, Amphicyonidae are an extinct family of large carnivorous mammals. These animals closely related to canids populated much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Devices in the Eocene (36 million years ago) and extinct in the Middle Miocene (7.5 million years ago), they represent one of the most characteristic groups of predators of ancient fauna. European.

Tartarocyon cazanavei (Art illustration)

Photo: Basel Natural History Museum/Denny Navarra

kg et leur régime alimentaire était typiquement mésocarnivore, omnivore, broyeur d’os et hypercarnivore”,”text”:”Leur masse corporelle variait de 9 à 320kg et leur régime alimentaire était typiquement mésocarnivore, omnivore, broyeur d’os et hypercarnivore”}}”>Their body mass ranged from 9 to 320 kg and their diet was said to be mesocarnivorous, omnivorous, bone-crushing and hypercarnivorous.notes paleontologist Bastien Mennecart in a press release published by the museum.

A new kind

The mandible was unearthed in the small town of Sallespisse, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in southwestern France. It was extricated from a marine deposit 12 to 12.8 million years old.

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The mandible was unearthed in a marine deposit 12 to 12.8 million years old.

Photo: Basel Natural History Museum/Bastien Mennecart

Scientists were struck by the dentition of the lower jaw.

Contrary to what is observed in other amphicyonids, the dentition of this animal has a single lower fourth molar. This tooth is particularly important for the determination of species and genera. We are probably in the presence of a new genre. »

A quote from Bastien Mennecart

The team named the beast Tartarocyon cazanaveiname inspired by the character of Tartarus, a one-eyed giant from Basque mythology.

The body mass of a Tartarocyon is estimated at 200 kg, which makes it one of the largest predators that lived in European territory in the Miocene.

millions d’années dans le nord des Pyrénées sont très rares, note le communiqué. Cette découverte et la description de la mâchoire inférieure sont d’autant plus importantes. Elles offrent l’occasion de mieux comprendre l’évolution des chiens-ours européens dans le contexte environnemental de l’époque.”,”text”:”Les découvertes de fossiles de vertébrés terrestres qui vivaient il y a 13 à 11millions d’années dans le nord des Pyrénées sont très rares, note le communiqué. Cette découverte et la description de la mâchoire inférieure sont d’autant plus importantes. Elles offrent l’occasion de mieux comprendre l’évolution des chiens-ours européens dans le contexte environnemental de l’époque.”}}”>Discoveries of fossils from terrestrials who lived 13 to 11 million years ago in the northern Pyrenees are very rare, the statement notes. This discovery and the description of the lower jaw are all the more important. They provide an opportunity to better understand the evolution of European bear dogs in the environmental context of the time.

The details of this work are published in the journal PeerJ (New window) (in English).

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