Borhyaena

Name: Borhyaena ‭(‬Strong hyena‭)‬.
Phonetic: Bor-hy-e-nah.
Named By: Florentino Ameghino‭ ‬-‭ ‬1887.
Synonyms: Acrocyon patagonensis,‭ ‬Arctodictis australis,‭ ‬Borhyaena excavata,‭ ‬Borhyaena sanguinaria,‭ ‬Borhyaena zitteli,‭ ‬Conodonictis,‭ ‬Dinamyctis,‭ ‬Dynamictis,‭ ‬Pseudoborhyaena.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Metatheria,‭ ‬Sparassodonta,‭ ‬Borhyaenidae.
Species: B.‭ ‬tuberata‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬B.‭ ‬macrodonta.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Up to‭ ‬1.5‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: South America.
Time period: Burdigalian to Langhian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Many specimens.

       Despite the name,‭ ‬Borhyaena was in no way related to hyenas,‭ ‬but was instead one of the larger predatory marsupials that roamed South America during the early/mid Miocene periods.‭ ‬As the type genus of the Borhyaenidae,‭ ‬Borhyaena represents one of the main kinds of predators active in South America until they were ultimately replaced by new predators such as the sabre-toothed Thylacosmilus and larger phorusrhacid terror birds like Phorusrhacos and Brontornis.
       Although sometimes described as bear like,‭ ‬this description is more down to the presumed heavy build of the animal.‭ ‬However many remains are incomplete which means that palaeontologists are limited to conducting a best guess by comparing individuals to more complete remains of other animals.‭ ‬A more reasonable guide is the length of Borhyaena which is estimated at up to one and a half meters long,‭ ‬something that has led to it being described as being wolf-sized.
       Borhyaena is usually depicted as being a cursorial‭ (‬ground dwelling‭) ‬predator that relied more upon ambush hunting in attacking prey.‭ ‬This behaviour has been inferred from study of the proportionately short legs that would have provided for excellent acceleration to top running speed.‭ ‬However many of the potential prey animals such as litoptern mammals like Theosodon had long legs,‭ ‬and once they got going it would have been almost impossible for Borhyaena to catch up.‭ ‬Aside from using ambush tactics,‭ ‬Borhyaena may have shown a preference towards hunting smaller litoptern like Diadiaphorus,‭ ‬which would have had less chance to escape a charging Borhyaena than larger relatives.

Further reading
- Evolution of the Borhyaenidae, extinct South American predaceous marsupials. - University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 117:1-89. - L. G. Marshall - 1978.



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