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Temporal range: Middle Paleocene to late Eocene 60.2–33.9Ma
Part of a Palaeonictis occidentalis skull at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Creodonta
Family: Oxyaenidae
Cope, 1877


Oxyaenidae is a family of the extinct order Creodonta; it contains three subfamilies comprising ten genera. The placement of a fourth subfamily, Machaeroidinae, is unsure; it may belong here or in Hyaenodontidae.

North American oxyaenids were the first creodonts to appear during the late Paleocene, while smaller radiations of oxyaenids in Europe and Asia occurred during the Eocene.[1] They were cat-like beasts which walked on flat feet, in contrast to today's carnivores which (except for bears and raccoons) walk or run on their toes. Anatomically, characteristic features are a short, broad skull, deep jaws, and teeth designed for crushing rather than shearing, as in the hyaenodonts.(Lambert, 163)

Oxyaenids were specialized carnivores feeding on birds, small mammals, eggs and insects, and they were capable of climbing trees, which is suggested by fossil evidence of their paws.


Restoration of Patriofelis by Charles Knight


  1. ^ Gunnel, Gregg F.; Gingerich, Philip D. (30 Sep 1991). "Systematics and evolution of late Paleocene and early Eocene Oxyaenidae (Mammalia, Creodonta) in the Clarks Fork Basin, Wyoming". Contributions From the Museum of Paleontology (The University of Michigan) 28 (7): 141–180. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  • David Lambert and the Diagram Group. The Field Guide to Prehistoric Life. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-8160-1125-7
  • Stucky, R. K. and T. G. Hardy. 2007. A new large hypercarnivorous oxyaenid (Mammalia, Creodonta) from the Middle Eocene of the Wind River Formation, Natrona County, Wyoming. Bulletin of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 39:57-65.