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The skull of Borhyaena (Wikimedia Commons)


Borhyaena (Greek for "strong hyena"); pronounced BORE-hi-EE-nah


Woodlands of South America

Historical Epoch:

Late Oligocene-Early Miocene (25-20 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and 200 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Hyena-like head; long tail; flat feet


About Borhyaena:

Although it sounds like it should be directly related to modern hyenas, Borhyaena was actually a large, predatory marsupial of South America (which witnessed more than its share of these pouched mammals 20 or 25 million years ago). To judge by its odd, flat-footed posture and oversized jaws studded with numerous bone-crushing teeth, Borhyaena was an ambush predator that jumped on its prey from the high branches of trees (in the same style as non-marsupial saber-toothed cats). As fearsome as Borhyaena and its kin were, they were eventually replaced in their South American ecosystem by large, predatory prehistoric birds like Phorusrhacos and Kelenken.

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