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Researchers discover the fossil of a species of “bear dog” that roamed France 12 million years ago

By on July 3, 2022 0

A fossilized lower jaw was recently discovered in the Pyrenees range in southern France, suggesting the existence of a new species of Bear Dog. These mighty predators roamed the lands of what is now marked as France around 12 million years ago.

Bear Dogs had extremely deadly jaws capable of tearing flesh from bone. The lower jaw found by the researchers concretizes the lethality of these predators and also highlights the wide prevalence of dogs across the world. According to reports, bear dogs pranced in parts of Asia, Southern Africa, North America and Europe. The research was published in PeerJ.

The approximately 20 cm long fossil was discovered by Bastien Mennecart, a paleontologist at the Basel Natural History Museum. He led an international team that shares credit for the discovery and analysis of the prehistoric jawbone. The researchers named the new species of carnivore Tartarocyon, after a giant one-eyed creature found in Basque mythology.

Floreal Sole, the paleontologist who named the discovered species and co-author of the research paper, said the most prominent feature of the fossil are the teeth. According to a report by Live Science, the presence of a lower fourth premolar, which had never been seen in previous specimens, indicated that the fossil belonged to a new species.

The newly spotted molar highlights the varied ability to attack its prey. In addition, it also contributes to researchers’ efforts to plot a trajectory of their evolution and compare it with other species in the family. With this discovery, researchers also expect an increased geographic distribution of Amphicyonidae, the scientific name for Bear Dogs.

The geographic distribution aspect is highlighted due to the fact that this is the first Amphicyonidae fossil found in the Pyrenees range, suggesting that bear dogs roamed more widely than expected across Europe.

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