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WillemSvdMerwe's avatar

Prehistoric Hyenas



Here are some extinct hyenas to give you an idea of their past diversity.

The very earliest hyenas were very small and similar to mongooses, genets and civets, such as Protictitherium and Plioviverrops. I haven't been able to find photos or reconstructions of skeletons or skulls or I would have included them as well.

Ictitherium was one of the earliest of the 'dog-hyenas' but was still very similar to a civet. It was as big as a medium-sized dog and lived 12.7-5 million years ago in Eurasia and Africa.

Chasmaporthetes was also a dog-hyena and had become adapted to chasing down its prey. You might call it a cheetah-hyena. This is the only kind of hyena known to have reached the New World and at a time was widespread and successful in North America, having competed against the bone-crunching Borophagines (members of the dog, wolf and fox family). It lived from 4.9 to 0.8 million years ago.

Adcrocuta was one of the earliest true bone-crunching hyenas. It had a short face and a stout body. I can't find much info on it except that it lived from the end of the Miocene into the Pliocene, so possibly from about 6 to about 1 million years ago. Its fossils were found in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Pachycrocuta was the largest true hyena known, perhaps reaching a bodyweight of over 190 kg (compare to about 90 kg for the spotted hyena). It, too, was found in Eurasia and Africa, about 3 to 0.5 million years ago.

Today there are only four species of hyena left: the Spotted, Striped and Brown Hyenas (all bone crunchers) and the Aardfwolf, the last surviving dog-hyena - although it is specialized to eat only insects. Spotted hyenas occurred in Europe until quite recently.
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Jdailey1991's avatar
Two questions:

Were they of extinct subfamilies, or could we find them in Protelinae (aardwolves) or Hyaeninae (more iconic hyenas)?

Is there any evidence from any of the presented genera that at least one of them lived the Amazon lifestyle of Crocuta?