Daphoenus: basal to only one kind of bear-dog in the LRT

Today’s post
was inspired by a recent PBS Eons YouTube video (link below) on bear-dogs. Earlier we learned that not all bear-dogs are related to one another.

FIgure 1. Skeleton of Daphoneus.

FIgure 1. Skeleton of Daphoenus, basal to Amphicyon major, about the size of a coyote. This mount is digitigrade, but some sources report it was plantigrade, based on fossil footprints.

Daphoenus is correctly mentioned as a basal bear-dog.
It’s important to note, though, that bears are not related to dogs in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1619+ taxa). Cats and hyaenas are closer to dogs and some bear-dogs are more closely related to hyaenas and hyaenodonts (marsupials) in the LRT.

Figure 1. Two skulls attributed to Daphoneus, one with colors added.

Figure 2. Two skulls attributed to Daphoenus, one with colors added. Skull length 20cm.

Daphoenus vetus (Leidy 1853; Middle Eocene to Middle Miocene, 37-16mya). Like related dogs (genus: Canis) this mid-sized predator dug burrows for offspring nesting and hiding sites. Here it nests basal to Amphicyon major, a bear-dog related to dogs.

You can learn more
about bear-dogs here, here and here.

Leidy J 1853. Observations on a collection of fossil Mammalia and Chelonia from the Mauvaises Terres of Nebraska. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad., 6: 392–394.


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