Recently Discovered Fossil Reveals New Species of Dog
There was a time 12 million years ago when massive sharks like magalodon and ancient horses like Merychippus roamed the lands and now, experts have identified a newly found fossil that lived side-by-side with these prehistoric creatures.
The study by Steven E. Jasinski, Peter Dodson and Steve C. Wallace was published in the Journal of Paleontology. The new species is now called “Cynarctus wangi,” named after Xiaoming Wang, the curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and expert on mammalian carnivores. This fossil held remains of a canine similar in shape to that of a coyote, and was as a member of the subfamily Borophaginae which are known as “bone-crushing dogs” due to their broad teeth and strong jaws.
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Steven E. Jasinski is a student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences. He believes they this dog breed would have behaved similar to the way hyenas do today.
“Based on its teeth, probably only about a third of its diet would have been meat,” Jasinski said. “It would have supplemented that by eating plants or insects, living more like a mini-bear than like a dog.”
Jasinski also noted that while finding fossils from this time period from marine animals is still difficult, land animals who are fossilized are much harder to come by. “It is quite rare we find fossils from land animals in this region during this time, but each one provides important information for what life was like then.”
Borophaginae dogs lived from about 30-10 million years ago in North America and their last members went extinct approximately 2 million years ago. C. wangi represents one of the last survivors of this subspecies and was likely out-competed by ancestors of some of the canines living today such as wolves, foxes and coyotes.
Other creatures that would have lived alongside this species include the ancient pig Desmathyus and Prosthenops, an elephant-like animal known as the gomphothere and the horned artiodactyl Prosynthetoceras (try saying that three times quickly).
“This new dog gives us useful insight into the ecosystem of eastern North America between 12 and 13 million years ago,” Jasinski said.
[ Source: ScienceDaily ]
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