STL Science Center

STL Science Center

15 October 2016

Bone Eating Dogs

The role of hyenas in their environment is, partially, to break down carcasses by using their strong jaws to break open bones. This role in the environment has been occupied by a number of different animals over the history of life on this planet. One animal that once filled that role was a medium-sized canid known by a number of names since its discovery. The current name it is known by is Borophagus (Gluttonous eater). The genus has been described as a group of bone-crushing hyena-like dogs and is populated by 8 species. The dogs were about the size of modern coyotes but possessed jaws capable of crushing bone. Despite filling the role of bone-crushing scavenger, recent studies have note that the population of fossils and estimated population of the animals extrapolated from the number of fossils was large enough that experts believe Borophagus was actually an apex predator in its environment.
©Charles R. Knight

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