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They discover a new genus of giant 'bear dog' that lived in Europe 12 million years ago


The animal, a predator with powerful jaws capable of crushing bones, it weighed about 200 kilos, which makes it one of the largest known amphicyonids on the continent.

During the Miocene geological epoch ( between 23 and 5.3 million years ago), our planet was inhabited by various species of predators from the family of amphicyonidae (Amphicyonidae), popularly known as ‘bear dogs’. Widely varying in size and weight, from 9kg to the fearsome 600kg ‘Amphicyon ingens’, they were successful predators and distant relatives of modern carnivorous mammals.

Now, an international team of researchers led by Swiss paleontologist Bastien Mennecart has discovered a new genus of ‘bear dog’ that lived in the south of present-day France about 12 million years ago.

The discovery was made from the analysis of a lower jaw found in marine deposits from 12.8 to 12 million years old. antiquity in the small community of Sallespisse, details a communiqué from the Basel Natural History Museum ( Switzerland), in whose funds the fossil is found.

The unique morphology of the fourth premolar of the fossil allowed scientists to classify it as a new genus, which they named ‘ Tartarocyon Cazanavei’ in honor of Tartalo, a Cyclops shepherd from Basque mythology, and Alain Cazanave, the owner of the land in the Atlantic Pyrenees where the excavations were carried out.

The researchers estimated the animal’s mass at about 200 kilos, making it one of the largest known ‘bear dogs’ in Europe.

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Extinct about 7.5 million years ago, the ‘bear dog’ family was ecologically diverse, but all species exhibited typical mesocarnivorous diets (consisting of 50-70% meat), omnivores and bone crushers.

Scientists indicate in their study, published in the PeerJ magazine , that the discovery of ‘Tartarocyon Cazanavei’ further illustrates the diversity of amphicyonids in Europe, both in terms of their body masses and their diets.

The team proposes to carry out an exhaustive analysis of the taxonomic and ecological diversity of the amphicynids to better understand the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on the evolution of these predators.


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