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Temporal range: Mid-Miocene (Laventan)
~13.8–11.8 Ma
Dukecynus magnus fossil.svg
Fossil illustration
Scientific classification

Goin, 1997
  • Dukecynus magnus

Dukecynus is an extinct genus of meat-eating metatherian, belonging to the order Sparassodonta which lived in South America during the Middle Miocene (Laventan), between about 13.8 and 11.8 million years ago.[1] The name of the genus meaning "Duke dog", for the Duke University and the Greek word cynos, dog, for the pretended similarity of this animal with dogs. A single species known so far, Dukecynus magnus. The species name "magnus" derives from Latin for big, to reflect their great size.


Dukecynus is only known from its holotype, IGM 251149, a heavily damaged partial skull preserving parts of the lower and upper jaw as well as associated fragments of the skeleton.[1] This specimen was discovered at the Konzentrat-Lagerstätte La Venta in the Honda Group, Huila and Tolima in Colombia. A second fragmentary specimen from La Venta, cataloged as UCMP 39250, consisting of a fragmentary skull and parts of the humerus and femur from a juvenile individual, referred to "cf. Arctodictis" by Marshall (1978) could also belong to Dukecynus or a similar species.[2][1] Although the affinities of this species have never been formally analysed, Dukecynus is generally considered to be a basal borhyaenoid, a paraphyletic group of sparassodonts that includes genera like Lycopsis and Prothylacynus that cannot be assigned to one of the major borhyaenoid families like Borhyaenidae or Thylacosmilidae.[3] Compared to other basal borhyaenoids, Dukecynus had a long, narrow snout and was relatively large, with some estimates suggesting this animal weighed up to 68 kilograms (150 lbs).[4] Dukecynus was probably the largest mammalian predator as well as the largest sparassodont at La Venta.


  1. ^ a b c Goin, F. J. 1997 New clues for understanding Neogene marsupial radiations. In A history of the neotropical fauna. Vertebrate paleobiology of the Miocene in Colombia (ed. R. F. Kay, R. H. Maden, R. L. Cifelli & J. Flynn), pp. 185–204. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  2. ^ Marshall, L. Evolution of the Borhyaenidae, extinct South American predaceous marsupials. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
  3. ^ Forasiepi, Analía M. (2009). "Osteology of Arctodictis sinclairi (Mammalia, Metatheria, Sparassodonta) and phylogeny of Cenozoic metatherian carnivores from South America". Monografías del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales. 6: 1–174.
  4. ^ Stephen Wroe, Christine Argot and Christopher Dickman. On the rarity of big fierce carnivores and primacy of isolation and area: tracking large mammalian carnivore diversity on two isolated continents. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (2004) 271, 1203–1211 1203, doi 10.1098/rspb.2004.2694

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