From Miacis to the hyena.


A few days ago, I was watching the documentary typical of Africa, with its eternal battles between lions and hyenas, when something caught my attention. Early in the documentary, the narrator describing for the umpteenth time the hyenas, he said these were animals that were closer, evolutionarily speaking, a cat than a dog. I found it very funny because hyenas are very similar to dogs, even as they live in herds, ... that's when I started researching, from the beginning (or almost).

We talked of Miacis, the "animal mother", the ancestor of both dogs and cats (both as feliforms Caniformes. Following the storyline, we find gender Prionodon a split where the two genera of felids (where is the Smilodon or saber-toothed tiger and) and barbourofélidos, coming at last to viverrids (the picture above). This name is very important, viverrids developed at the end of the Eocene and they are the ancestors of hyenas and genets (Hyaenidae, Herpestidae, Eupleridae).
I imagine that no need to explain the differences between  Caniformia and Feliformia , shaped like a dog or cat shaped, with long snouts and claws fixed or short snouts and retractable claws ... but really, the peculiarity that differentiates these two groups is that the auditory bullae have their feliforms (bony capsules enclosing the middle and inner ear). This is a key to the diagnosis in the classification of species as Feliforme versus Caniforme. In the auditory bullae are feliforms dual chamber composed of two bones joined by a partition. The Caniformes has a single chamber or partially divided auditory bullae, composed of a single bone.

So it is true that the hyena (like all such) come from Miacis, and that is nearer to a big cat than a wolf. Although it is true that is nearer to a genet, a ferret or a tiger. Certainly within the family Hyaenidae we can also find the Hyena giant extinct.

The appearance of the viverrids was like a genet but more slender, had the sharp nose, long neck, tail as long as the rest of the body and dentition hipercarnívora (carnassial teeth, which cut the flesh the way scissors) which is not known is if your hair was streaked, spotted or brown uniform color. It lived in the Eocene and the two species are present linsang striped and spotted linsang.

I present a video of one of a genet, a representative living with an appearance similar to the first Feliformia  ... (precursors of the hyenas, cats, tigers or genets and weasels), perhaps this is greater.

Chasmaporthetes



This prehistoric animal is an animal very curious. Due to the different characteristics was an animal uncommon, and is called Chasmaporthetes, although not really a distinct species, it really is the family of a peculiar group of hyenas. Chasmaporthetes size is about 1 meter (3,3 ft) tall at the withers and an average of 80 kg (170 lbs). To get an idea, would be as large as the spotted hyenas that appear in documentaries in Africa but, more graceful, slightly taller and less robust.

The two main features of this hyena are:


First, their teeth. The Hyaenidae are characterized by a modified dentition for intervention on the hard tissues of the mammalian skeleton, and this is because most species are scavengers. However, representatives of the genre were primarily hunters Chasmaporthetes. I remember talking about the kind of prehistoric hyena Pachycrocuta (giant hyena), had a bite so powerful, so strong teeth and was so great that I could grind up the bones of elephants, LINK.

But back to what we want. When the experts found the jaw of Chasmaporthetes began to think that this species were mostly carrion, but rather active predators. To understand the difference, we could say that their molar teeth were made to cut, and not crushed. Something like the current cats, they are better equipped to hunt than to live on carrion.

The idea that predators were reinforced when analyzing its skeleton, found that their physiology was specialized in speed. Experts think that the Chasmaporthetes could reach up to 100 km / h (64 mll/h) and had to compete with the giant cheetah Acinonyx pardinensis of the time. Her long legs and slender body adapted to the speed, gave him a look that is classified in the group of hyena-like dogs ... talk about it another day.


Secondly, its distribution. We are accustomed to seeing the hyenas in Africa or South Asia and is easy to think that we in the east half and the Strait of Gibraltar, the hyenas could colonize Asia and Europe. For example, in Europe was the spice Chasmaporthetes lunensis. Well, another species, called Chasmaporthetes australis was the only species of hyena that through the Bering Strait colonized all of North America. This may not tell you much but it was this species, the swift hunter hyena, hyena more common around the world and of all time (although it is hardly known today). Lived parts of the world more than any other hyena, whether extinct or still alive.

Chasmaporthetes is a genus that lived in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America about 15 million years ago during the Miocene. In short, a sort of prehistoric animal that I thought you would like to know if you love animals, prehistoric or not.

Rhamphosuchus crassidens.


Today we will talk of the largest crocodile that ever lived. More than the Sarcosuchus Imperator and the Deinosuchus, which are of similar size (15 meters) and weighs about the same (9 tons) ... dimensions not insignificant by comparison with the currently largest crocodile, the marine crocodile weighs 1.5 tonnes  and 6 meters long.



The name of this giant prehistoric crocodile is Rhamphosuchus crassidens, "crocodile-peak". Rhamphosuchus crassidens is the largest species of a genus of which we speak: gender Rhamphosuchus and is an extinct relative of the False gharial, a crocodile of the family Crocodylidae  with a thin elongated snout. Although the False gharial is 4 meters and weighs 250 kg, whereas the Rhamphosuchus crassidens is 18 meters long (although other estimates do not exceed 15 m) and 1 tons. An aquatic animal although very heavy to move nimbly on land, in ponds and marshes became the superpredator of water during the Miocene Epoch in the Indian continent.



Due to the size, strength and width but also elongated snout, the Rhamphosuchus crassidens could devour prey larger and more varied than today's crocodiles Tomistominae subfamily (such as the False gharial). The variety and development of the Miocene ungulates were a valuable contribution to the diet of this prehistoric animal. Among their prey could find elephants, antelopes, deer-like animals, giant pigs, horses with huge claws, camels, rhinos, crocodiles and even other great apes and the orangutan or an ancestor of ours: the great and strong Gigantopithecus. All the animals who came to drink. Possibly, their diet was changing as he grew older, because while their size increased so did his jaw and of course his power and, at first had to settle mainly fish and small vertebrates. Even then devoured everything that breathed.
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