Paleontologists recently announced a new canine species, called the Cynarctus wangi, and it was known to have one heck of a bite.
Belonging to the extinct Borophaginaie subfamily, a class known as the “bone-crushing dogs,” the animal lived million of years ago, a time when huge sharks like megalodon swam in the oceans.
The fossil was discovered during an excavation led by Ph.D student Steven E. Jasinski of University of Pennsylvania. The team found the remains in Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs region.
Initially, the dog was thought to be the size of a huge wolf (think: Game of Thrones), but it actually ended up being only the size of a coyote. However, it still could pack a lot of punch.
“Based on its teeth, probably only about a third of its diet would have been meat,” lead author Steven E. Jasinski, a paleontology Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a press release. “It would have supplemented that by eating plants or insects, living more like a mini-bear than like a dog.”
The dog lived some 12 million years ago along the shore of eastern North America. At face value, this fact doesn’t seem that interesting but for scientists it is a bit peculiar.
“Most fossils known from this time period represent marine animals, who become fossilized more easily than animals on land,” Jasinski said in the release. “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.”
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While this is the only carnivore discovered in that area, scientists believe other animals it would have lived alongside include wild pigs, an animal similar to a bull, horses and an elephant-like species.
In classic Darwin fashion, the dog most likely became extinct after coyotes, foxes and wolves outcompeted it. Good news for us.
Images via University of Pennsylvania