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Amphicyon

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amphicyon

Amphicyon (American Museum of Natural History)

Name:

Amphicyon (Greek for "ambiguous dog"); pronounced am-fih-SIGH-on

Habitat:

Plains of the northern hemisphere

Historical Epoch:

Middle Oligocene-Early Miocene (30-20 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 6 feet long and 200 pounds

Diet:

Omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; bear-like body

About Amphicyon:

Despite its nickname, the "Bear Dog," Amphicyon was directly ancestral to neither bears nor dogs. This was the most prominent genus of the family of mammalian, vaguely canine-like carnivores that succeeded the larger "creodonts" (typified by Hyaenodon and Sarkastodon) but preceded the first true dogs. True to its nickname, Amphicyon looked like a small bear with the head of a dog, and it probably pursued a bear-like lifestyle as well, feeding opportunistically on meat, carrion, fish, fruit and plants. The front legs of this prehistoric mammal were especially well-muscled, meaning it could probably stun prey senseless with a single well-aimed swipe of its paw.

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