Temporal range: 40–2.5Ma Oligocene to Pliocene
|Strobodon stirtoni, Cat Tooth|
|Range of Borophaginae based on fossil distribution. (same as Borophagini)|
The subfamily Borophaginae is an extinct group of canids called "bone-crushing dogs" that were endemic to North America during the Oligocene to Pliocene and lived roughly 36—2.5 million years ago and existing for about .
The Borophaginae apparently descended from the subfamily Hesperocyoninae. The earliest and most primitive borophagine is the genus Archaeocyon, which is a small fox-sized animal mostly found in the fossil beds in western North America. The borophagines soon diversified into several major groups. They evolved to become considerably larger than their predecessors, and filled a wide range of niches in late Cenozoic North America, from small omnivores to powerful, bear-sized carnivores such as Epicyon.
Borophagines are a total of 66 species that includes 18 new species which range from Orellan through Blancan ages. A phylogenetic analysis using cladistic methods with Hesperocyoninae as an archaic group of canids, as the outgroup. Most of the Borophaginae, aside from some transitional forms, can be organized in four major clades: Phlaocyonini, Cynarctina, Aelurodontina, and Borophagina (all erected from as new tribes or subtribes). The Borophaginae begins with a group of small fox-sized genera, such as Archaeocyon, Oxetocyon, Otarocyon, and Rhizocyon, in the Orellan through early Arikareean stages. These canids reached their maximum diversity of species around 28 million years ago.
Often generically referred to as "bone-crushing dogs" for their powerful teeth and jaws, and hyena-like features (although their dentition was more primitive than that of hyenas), their fossils are abundant and widespread; in all likelihood, they were probably one of the top predators of their ecosystems. Their good fossil record has also allowed a detailed reconstruction of their phylogeny, showing that the group was highly diverse in its heyday. All Borophaginae had a small fifth toe on their rear feet (similar to the toes that bear dew claws on the front feet), where as all modern Caninae have only four toes normally.
Noteworthy genera in this group are Aelurodon, Epicyon, and Borophagus (=Osteoborus). According to Xiaoming Wang, the Borophaginae played broad ecological roles that are performed by at least three living carnivoran families, Canidae, Hyaenidae, and Procyonidae.
Borophagine taxonomy, following Wang et al.
- Family Canidae
(million years=in existence)
- Subfamily †Borophaginae
- †Archaeocyon 33—26 Ma, existing
- †Oxetocyon 33—28 Ma, existing
- †Otarocyon 34—30 Ma, existing
- †Rhizocyon 33—26 Ma, existing
- Tribe †Phlaocyonini 33—13 Ma, existing
- Tribe †Borophagini 30—3 Ma, existing
- †Cormocyon 30—20 Ma, existing
- †Desmocyon 25—16 Ma, existing
- †Metatomarctus 19—16 Ma, existing
- †Euoplocyon 18—16 Ma, existing )
- †Psalidocyon 16—13 Ma, existing
- †Microtomarctus 21—13 Ma, existing (
- †Protomarctus 20—16 Ma, existing (
- †Tephrocyon 16—14 Ma, existing
- Subtribe †Cynarctina 20—10 Ma, existing
- Subtribe †Aelurodontina 20—5 Ma, existing
- Subtribe †Borophagina
- Subfamily †Borophaginae
Cladogram showing borophagine interrelationships, following Wang et al., figure 141:
- http://paleodb.org/cgi-bin/bridge.pl?action=checkTaxonInfo&taxon_no=83323&is_real_user=1 Paleobiology Database: Borophaginae
- Postanowicz, Rebecca. "Lioncrusher's Domain: Canidae". Retrieved 2006-04-12.
- Wang, Xiaoming; Richard Tedford, Beryl Taylor (1999-11-17). "Phylogenetic systematics of the borophaginae". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 243. hdl:2246/1588.
- ANMH Scientific Library, Wang, X.
- Alan Turner, "National Geographic: Prehistoric Mammals" (Washington, D.C.: Firecrest Books Ltd., 2004), pp. 112–114. ISBN 0-7922-7134-3
- Wang, Xiaoming; and Tedford, Richard H. Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. p44
- Xiaoming Wang, Richard H. Tedford, Mauricio Antón, Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History, New York : Columbia University Press, 2008; ISBN 978-0-231-13528-3