Temporal range: Early Miocene
Kolponomos is an extinct genus of carnivoran mammal that existed from the Hemingfordian age to the Aquitanian age of the Miocene epoch, about 20 million years ago. The genus was erected in 1960 by Ruben A. Stirton, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, for the species K. clallamensis, on the basis of a partial skull and jaw found on the Olympic Peninsula. At the time, Stirton questionably assigned it to Procyonidae, its systematic position remained problematic until the discovery of more fossils including a nearly complete cranium from the original locality of K. clallamensis which helped identify it as part of the group from which Pinnipeds evolved.
In life, species of Kolponomos had downturned snouts and broad, heavy molars that would have been suited to a diet of hard-shelled marine invertebrates, and their narrow snouts and anteriorly directed eyes indicate that they would stereoscopic vision. Large neck muscle attachments and robust foot bones combine with these features to suggest that Kolponomos filled a unique niche among marine carnivores, approached today only by the unrelated sea otter. Due to the lack of a complete skeleton, however, it is difficult to make inferences about this genus' other adaptations.
- Tedford, R. H.; Barnes, L. G.; Ray, C. E. (1994). "The early Miocene littoral ursoid carnivoran Kolponomos: Systematics and mode of life" (PDF). Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 29: 11–32. Retrieved July 2010.