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Epicyon (Wikimedia Commons)


Epicyon (Greek for "more than a dog"); pronounced epp-ih-SIGH-on


Plains of North America

Historical Epoch:

Middle-Late Miocene (15-5 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and 150 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; big-cat-like head


About Epicyon:

Possibly the largest prehistoric dog that ever lived, Epicyon was a true "canid," belonging to the same general family as wolves, hyenas and modern dogs--and was thus a different beast altogether from the non-canid "creodont" mammals (typified by the giant Sarkastodon) that previously ruled the North American plains. Epicyon weighed in the neighborhood of 150 pounds--as much as a full-grown human--and it possessed unusually powerful jaws and teeth, which made its head look more like that of a big cat than a dog or wolf. However, paleontologists don't know much about Epicyon's feeding habits: it may have hunted alone or in packs, and it may even have subsisted exclusively on already-dead carcasses.

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