Temporal range: Late Miocene–Early Pleistocene
Miller and Carranza-Castaneda 1998
|Range of Canis lepophagus based on fossil distribution|
Johnston's coyote or Canis lepophagus (Latin: canis: 'dog', leporem: 'hare' or 'rabbit', suffix -phagus: '-eating'; hence hare-eating dog) is an extinct species of canid which was endemic to much of North America and lived from 4.9-1.8 Mya in the Blancan period. It is one of the more basal species of Canis, having existed before most of the major clades split. It was a small, narrow-skulled canid which may have given rise to grey wolves and coyotes. Some larger, broader-skulled C. lepophagus fossils found in northern Texas may represent the ancestral stock from which true wolves derive.
The Johnston's coyote lived during a period with other Canidae, specifically Borophaginae such as Epicyon (20.6—5.330 Mya), Paratomarctus (16.3—5.3 Mya), Borophagus (23.3—3.6 Mya), Carpocyon (20.4—3.9 Mya), and Aelurodon (23.03—4.9 Mya).
The Johnston's coyote was named by Johnson in 1938. The first fossil record was found in Cita Canyon, Texas. Subsequent discoveries of specimens were found in four other Texas sites, Tonuco Mountain, New Mexico, western Washington Sante Fe River, Florida, Black Ranch in northern California, sites in Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, and Oklahoma.
A specimen was estimated by Legendre and Roth to weigh 18.5 kg (40.7 lbs) and another specimen was estimated to weigh 17 kg (37.4 lbs).
- PaleoBiology Database: Canis lepophagus, age range and collections
- David L. Mech & Luigi Boitani (2003). Wolves: Behavior, ecology and conservation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 448. ISBN 0-226-51696-2.
- J. K. Morgan and N. H. Morgan. 1995. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
- G. S. Morgan and R. B. Ridgway, Late Pliocene vertebrates from the St. Petersburg Times site, Pinellas County, Florida, Papers in Florida Paleontology, 1987
- S. Legendre and C. Roth. 1988. Correlation of carnassial tooth size and body weight in recent carnivores (Mammalia). Historical Biology 1(1):85-98
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