Named By: Joseph Leidy - 1858.
Synonyms: Prohyaena, Strobodon.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Carnivora, Canidae, Borophaginae.
Species: A. ferox (type), A. asthenostylus, A. mcgrewi, A. montanensis, A. stirtoni, A. taxoides.
Size: Between 30 and 56 kilograms in weight and about 70 centimetres high at the shoulder, depending upon the species.
Known locations: Across North America, especially the United States.
Time period: Langhian through to the Messinian of the Miocene. Possibly into the early Zanclean of the Pliocene.
Fossil representation: Well over a hundred individuals of differing species.
with the type genus Borophagus,
Aelurodon is one of the better known
of the so called ‘bone crushing dogs’ of the Borophaginae. Canids
like Aelurodon got their nickname from the form of
their short snouts
which have also been described as hyena-like. Because of their
shortness, the snout force food towards the back of the mouth nearer
to where the jaw articulates. This allows for a greater amount of
force to be focused upon whatever was in the mouth so that when say a
bone was inside, Aelurodon had the bite force
necessary to break it
open. This would allow Aelurodon to then consume
the bone marrow
within, which could also imply that Aelurodon had
a greater tendency
to scavenge carcasses where only the bones might be left after all the
meat had already been consumed by carnivores that did not have the
power in their jaws to crack open the bones as well.
Aelurodon was also one of the last borophagines (as a group the Borophaginae disappeared at the end of the Pliocene), and seems to have gone extinct with the gradual appearance of more modern predators. These predators included felids, particularly sabre toothed cats like Machairodus, the earliest wolves such as Canis lepophagus and Canis ferox and the gradual appearance of bears such as Indarctos. These new forms were all better adapted at hunting the new and changing forms of available prey with some also capable of crunching bones as well and in the face of all of this new competition, older carnivore forms like Aelurodon were steadily eked out of existence.
- Phylogenetic systematics of the Borophaginae, X. Wang, R. H. Tedford & B. E. Taylor - 1999.
- A new species of Aelurodon (Carnivora, Canidae) from the Barstovian of Montana, Wang, Xiaoming; Benjamin Wideman, Ralph Nichols, Debra Hanneman - 2004.