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Temporal range: Early Miocene–Late Miocene
Epicyon haydeni skeleton.jpg
Mounted E. haydeni skeleton
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Borophaginae
Tribe: Borophagini
Subtribe: Borophagina
Genus: Epicyon
Leidy, 1858
Type species
Epicyon haydeni
  • E. aelurodontoides
  • E. haydeni
  • E. saevus

Epicyon ("more than a dog") is a large, extinct, canid genus of the subfamily Borophaginae ("bone-crushing dogs"), native to North America. Epicyon existed for about 15 million years from the Hemingfordian age of the Early Miocene to the Hemphillian of the Late Miocene.[2]


Epicyon was about 1.5 m (5 ft) long, and is estimated to have had a weight of 91–136 kg (200–300 lb).[citation needed] Epicyon had a massive head and powerful jaws, giving its skull a lion-like shape rather than having a skull similar in shape to that of a wolf. It is one of, if not the largest known genus of canid.[citation needed]

Epicyon was one of the last of the Borophaginae and shared its North American habitat with several other canids including:


Epicyon was first named by Joseph Leidy in 1858 as a subgenus of Canis. It was also mentioned as belonging to Aelurodontina by William Diller Matthew & Stirton in 1930. Later studies indicates that it was not a species of Canis, but a borophagine.

Fossil range[edit]

Fossil specimens range from Florida to Alberta, Canada to California; from Nebraska, and Kansas to New Mexico and Texas.


  • Epicyon aelurodontoides existed for 5.4 mya. It was named by X. Wang and others in 1999. It was found south of the Young Brothers Ranch, Kansas.
  • Epicyon haydeni existed for 15.3 mya It is synonymous with Aelurodon aphobus, Osteoborus ricardoensis, Osteoborus validus, Tephrocyon mortifer) was named by Joseph Leidy as a subgenus. It was recombined as Aelurodon haydeni by Scott and Osborn in 1890. Further study by Matthew in 1899, Matthew and Gidley in 1904, VanderHoof and Gregory in 1940, McGrew in 1944, Bennett in 1979, (1979) and Becker (1980). It again was recombined as Epicyon haydeni by Baskin in 1980, Voorhies in 1990, (1990), Baskin (1998), Wang et al. in 1999.
    • Morphology: The largest known specimen weighed an estimated 170 kg (370 lb).[3]
  • Epicyon saevus existed for 11.4 mya. It is synonymous with Aelurodon inflatus and was named by Joseph Leidy in 1858 or 1859. In the late 1880s-early 1900s,pe, Scott, Matthew, Cope and Matthew, Troxell recombined the animal as Aelurodon saevus. It was recombined as Epicyon saevus by Baskin in 1980, Munthe in 1989, Voorhies in 1990, and Wang et al. 1999.
    • Morphology: One specimen weighed an estimated 50.8 kg (112 lb). A second weighed an estimated 44.8 kg (99 lb).


In North America, in places such as Coffee Ranch in Texas, Epicyon shared territory with the bear Agriotherium as well as the feliform Barbourofelis, machairodont cat Amphimachairodus coloradensis and fellow canid Borophagus. All of these animals were potential competitors that would have occasionally conflicted with Epicyon for food and territory. Prey for Epicyon included herbivores like the camel Aepycamelus, the pronghorn antelope Cosoryx, horses like Neohipparion and Nannippus, the peccary Prosthennops and rhinoceroses like Teleoceras, all of which could provide a suitable meal through hunting or scavenging.[4][5]


  1. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Epicyon
  3. ^ Sorkin, Boris (2008). "A biomechanical constraint on body mass in terrestrial mammalian predators". Lethaia. 41 (4): 333–347. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.2007.00091.x.
  4. ^ Antón, Mauricio (2013). Sabertooth. Bloomington, Indiana: University of Indiana Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780253010421.
  5. ^ Turner, Alan (1997). The Big Cats and their fossil relatives. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-231-10228-5.
  • Alan Turner, "National Geographic: Prehistoric Mammals" (Washington, D.C.: Firecrest Books Ltd., 2004), pp. 112–114. ISBN 0-7922-7134-3

General references[edit]

  • Xiaoming Wang, Richard H. Tedford, Mauricio Antón, Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History, New York : Columbia University Press, 2008; ISBN 978-0-231-13528-3