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Temporal range: Late Eocene–Early Oligocene
Hoplophoneus primevus IMG 4443.jpg
Hoplophoneus primevus skeleton,
Zurich natural history museum
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Nimravidae
Genus: Hoplophoneus
Cope, 1874
  • H. dakotensis
  • H. kurteni
  • H. mentalis
  • H. occidentalis
  • H. primaevus
  • H. sicarius

Hoplophoneus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae, endemic to North America during the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene epochs (38—33.3 mya), existing for approximately 3.9 million years.[1]


Hoplophoneus was named by American paleontologist E.D. Cope in 1874. It was synonymized subjectively with Drepanodon by Palmer (1904) and Scott and Jepsen (1936).[2] It was assigned to Hoplophoneinae by Flynn and Galiano (1982);[3] to Nimravinae by Bryant (1991);[4] and to Nimravidae by Cope (1874), Simpson (1941), Hough (1949) and Martin (1998).

Hoplophoneus primaevus skull,
Munich Paleontological Museum


  • H. dakotensis Hatcher 1895
  • H. kurteni Martin 1992
  • H. mentalis Sinclair 1921 (syn. H. oharrai)
  • H. occidentalis Leidy 1866 (syn. Dinotomius atrox)
  • H. primaevus Leidy and Owen 1851 (syn. H. insolens, H. latidens, H. marshi, H. molossus, H. robustus, Machaerodus oreodontis)
  • H. sicarius (syn. Eusmilus sicarius Sinclair and Jepsen 1927)


Reconstruction of Hoplophoneus
by W.B. Scott (1913)

Hoplophoneus, though not a true cat, was similar to cats in outward appearance, though with a robust body and shorter legs. The largest known specimen was examined by Sorkin (2008) for body mass and was estimated to have a weight of 160 kg (350 lb).[5]

Hoplophoneus occidentalis was about the size of a large leopard and had canine teeth of only moderately-larger size. The larger H. sicarius and H. mentalis had very large upper canines and a massive flange at the front of the lower jaw.[6]


  1. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Hoplophoneus, basic info
  2. ^ W. B. Scott and G. L. Jepsen. 1936. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society
  3. ^ Flynn, J.; H. Galiano (1982). "Phylogeny of early Tertiary carnivora, with a description of a new species of Protictis from the Middle Eocene of northwestern Wyoming". American Museum Novitates (2725): 1–64. 
  4. ^ Bryant, H. N. (1991). "Phylogenetic relationships and systematics of the Nimravidae (Carnivora)". Journal of Mammalogy (72): 56–78. 
  5. ^ Sorkin, B. (2008-04-10). "A biomechanical constraint on body mass in terrestrial mammalian predators". Lethaia 41 (4): 333–347. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.2007.00091.x. 
  6. ^ Turner, Alan (1997). The Big Cats and their Fossil Relatives: an illustrated guide. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 234. ISBN 0-231-10228-3.