Name: Amphicyon ‭(‬Ambiguous dog‭)‬.
Phonetic: Am-fee-cie-on.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Carnivora,‭ ‬Amphicyonidae,‭ ‬Amphicyoninae.
Species: A.‭ ‬intermedius‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬frendens,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬frendes,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬galushai,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬giganteus,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬ingens,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬laugnacensis,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬longiramus,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬major,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬pontoni,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬reinheimeri,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬riggsi.
Diet: Primarily carnivorous but also thought to be an omnivore.
Size: Up to‭ ‬2.5‭ ‬meters long,‭ ‬but exact size depends upon species.
Known locations: Europe,‭ ‬Middle East,‭ ‬Asia,‭ ‬North America and Southern Africa.
Time period: Aquitanian through to Tortonian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Many known specimens allowing for complete restorations.

       In popular culture Amphicyon is possibly the best known genera of the group known as‭ ‘‬bear dogs‭’‬.‭ ‬This group was so named because of the immensely robust build of the body that gave them the appearance of bears even though the‭ ‬heads were more dog-like.‭ ‬Despite this more general name,‭ ‬Amphicyon was not a true dog,‭ ‬although it did live alongside animals that were more closely related to true dogs such as Epicyon.
       Amphicyon was one of the larger examples of the bear dogs,‭ ‬and of the known species A.‭ ‬ingens from North America is often cited as one of the largest.‭ ‬It’s thought that the arrival of amphicyonine bear dogs in North America replaced older carnivores like Hyaenodon as the dominant predators of the land until they themselves were replaced by a combined emergence of new feline and canid predators.
       Although Amphicyon is thought by many to have been an omnivore,‭ ‬it still had dedicated adaptations for hunting.‭ ‬Its sheer physical size meant that it was capable of overpowering many of the potential prey‭ ‬items that it came into contact with,‭ ‬and the especially well developed forelimbs suggest it was capable of wrestling prey to the ground.‭ ‬However this strength came at the price of speed,‭ ‬so Amphicyon would have been restricted to prey that could not run away from it,‭ ‬possibly larger and slower but more powerful animals like Chalicotherium that would have necessitated the extra strength.
       The concept of pack behaviour in Amphicyon has been considered by some,‭ ‬but while it is a possibility there is so far very little in the way of direct evidence to support this behaviour.‭ ‬If Amphicyon was a solitary hunter it may have eventually had to go up against pack animals like wolves,‭ ‬and while some solitary predators can and do hold their ground against wolf packs‭ (‬as can be witnessed today with grizzly bears stealing the kills from packs of‭ ‬grey wolves‭)‬,‭ ‬this is not an absolute rule that can be applied to everything.‭ ‬Such competition could be a key part of the ultimate downfall of Amphicyon as a dominant carnivore,‭ ‬as well as a seeming shift of herbivorous prey animals becoming larger,‭ ‬faster and more powerful in their own rights,‭ ‬meaning that Amphicyon no longer had a size advantage,‭ ‬but possibly a size hindrance.


Random favourites