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Temporal range: Late Eocene–Middle Miocene
Mesocyon skull.jpg
Skull of Mesocyon coryphaeus
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Hesperocyoninae
Phylogeny of Hesperocyoninae related to Borophaginae and Canines by R.L. Tedford, 1977
Fluctuation of species within Canidae over 40 million years

Hesperocyoninae is a subfamily of extinct canids.

Taxonomic history[edit]

Hesperocyoninae was named by Martin (1989). The members of this subfamily were reassigned to the family Canidae (with no subfamily) by Xiaoming Wang in 1999.[1]

Hesperocyoninae are basal canids that, according to Wang and Tedford, gave rise to the other canid groups, such as the Borophaginae and Caninae.

This disused subfamily was endemic to North America, living from the Duchesnean stage of the Late Eocene through to the early Barstovian stage of the Miocene, lasting around 20 million years. It comprises ten recognized genera and twenty six recognized species; among these, four genera and species are new. Four major lineages can be defined based on shared characteristics:

The genus Caedocyon probably forms a distinct clade of its own.

Hesperocyon, which lacks the shared derived characters that would include it within any of the aforementioned clades, is possibly ancestral to many of the lineages. There is evidence that the Paraenhydrocyon clade may be directly descended from Hesperocyon gregarius. According to Xiaoming Wang, Hesperocyon coloradensis provides an important link between H. gregarius and the Mesocyon-Enhydrocyon clade.

Hesperocyoninae species per unit of time


  1. ^ X. Wang, R. H. Tedford, and B. E. Taylor. 1999. Phylogenetic systematics of the Borophaginae (Carnivora: Canidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 243:1-392

Additional Reading[edit]

  • 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