Borophagus pugnator

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Borophagus pugnator[1]
Temporal range: Early Miocene- Late Miocene, 23.3–5.3 Ma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Borophaginae
Genus: Borophagus
Species: Borophagus pugnator

Borophagus pugnator is an extinct species of the genus Borophagus of the subfamily Borophaginae, a group of canids endemic to North America from the early Miocene epoch through the late Miocene epoch 23.3—5.3 Ma. Borophagus pugnator existed for approximately 18 million years.[2]


Borophagus, like other Borophaginae, are loosely known as "bone-crushing" or "hyena-like" dogs. Though not the most massive borophagine by size or weight, it had a more highly evolved capacity to crunch bone than earlier, larger genera such as Epicyon, which seems to be an evolutionary trend of the group (Turner, 2004). During the Pliocene epoch, Borophagus began being displaced by Canis genera such as Canis edwardii and later by Canis dirus. Early species of Borophagus were placed in the genus Osteoborus until recently, but the genera are now considered synonyms.[1] Borophagus pugnator possibly led a hyena-like lifestyle scavenging carcasses of recently dead animals.[citation needed]


Typical features of this genus are a bulging forehead and powerful jaws; it was probably a scavenger.[3] Its crushing premolar teeth and strong jaw muscles would have been used to crack open bone, much like the hyena of the Old World. The adult animal is estimated to have been about 80 cm in length, similar to a coyote, although it was much more powerfully built.[4]


Two fossil specimens of Borophagus pugnator were measured by Legendre and Roth for body mass.[5] The results are as follows:

  • Specimen 1: 41.1 kg (91 lb)
  • Specimen 2: 36 kg (79 lb)


Borophagus pugnator was originally named Porthocyon pugnator by Cook 1932. It was recombined by Matthew as Aelurodon pugnator in 1924 followed by Matthew and Stirton in 1830. It was then recombined as Osteoborus pugnator by Stirton and VanderHoof in 1933 and others until recombined as Borophagus pugnator by VanderHoof (1931) and X. Wang et al. in 1999.

Fossil distribution[edit]

Specimens were found at only two sites. Near Withlacoochee River, Florida and coastal North Carolina.


  1. ^ a b Wang, Xiaoming; Richard Tedford; Beryl Taylor (1999-11-17). "Phylogenetic systematics of the Borophaginae" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 243. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-03-20. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  2. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Borophagus pugnator, basic info
  3. ^ Lambert, David (1985). The Field Guide to Prehistoric Life. New York: Facts on File. p. 163. ISBN 0-8160-1125-7. 
  4. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 220. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  5. ^ S. Legendre and C. Roth. 1988. Correlation of carnassial tooth size and body weight in recent carnivores (Mammalia). Historical Biology: p. 85-98

Further reading[edit]