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Temporal range: Middle Paleocene to late Eocene 60.2–33.9 Ma
Part of a Palaeonictis occidentalis skull at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Laurasiatheria
Order: Creodonta
Family: Oxyaenidae
Cope, 1877


Oxyaenidae is a family of carnivorous mammals. Traditionally classified in Creodonta, this group may be related to pangolins.[1] The group contains four subfamilies comprising thirteen genera.

North American oxyaenids were the first creodonts to appear during the late Paleocene, while smaller radiations of oxyaenids in Europe and Asia occurred during the Eocene.[2] They were superficially cat-like beasts that walked on flat feet, in contrast to modern cats, which walk or run on their toes. Anatomically, characteristic features include a short, broad skull, deep jaws, and teeth designed for crushing rather than shearing, as in the hyaenodonts or modern cats.(Lambert, 163)

Oxyaenids were specialized carnivores that preyed on other terrestrial vertebrates, eggs and insects. They were capable of climbing trees, which is suggested by fossil evidence of their paws.


Restoration of Patriofelis by Charles Knight


  1. ^ Halliday, Thomas J. D.; Upchurch, Paul; Goswami, Anjali (2015). "Resolving the relationships of Paleocene placental mammals". Biological Reviews: n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/brv.12242. ISSN 1464-7931. 
  2. ^ Gunnel, Gregg F.; Gingerich, Philip D. (30 Sep 1991). "Systematics and evolution of late Paleocene and early Eocene Oxyaenidae (Mammalia, Creodonta) in the Clarks Fork Basin, Wyoming" (PDF). Contributions From the Museum of Paleontology. The University of Michigan. 28 (7): 141–180. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 

Further reading[edit]

  • David Lambert and the Diagram Group. The Field Guide to Prehistoric Life. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-8160-1125-7
  • Stucky, R. K. and T. G. Hardy. 2007. A new large hypercarnivorous oxyaenid (Mammalia, Creodonta) from the Middle Eocene of the Wind River Formation, Natrona County, Wyoming. Bulletin of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 39:57-65.