Cats and Bear Dogs

3

Fantastic Four The Thing

Meet the Bear Dog. Bear dogs, extinct by about 9 million years, have the body of a bear but the mouth of a dog. These fascinating animals did something that even modern domesticated dogs don't do (usually) - they got along with cats.

Led by the University of Michigan and the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, a team of paleontologists has analyzed the tooth enamel of two species of saber-toothed cats and a bear dog unearthed in geological pits near Madrid.

The researchers found that the cat species—a leopard-sized Promegantereon ogygia and a much larger, lion-sized Machairodus aphanistus—lived together in a woodland area. They likely hunted the same prey—horses and wild boar. In this habitat, the small saber-toothed cats could have used tree cover to avoid encountering the larger ones. The bear dog hunted antelope in a more open area that overlapped the cats' territory, but was slightly separated.

"These three animals were sympatric—they inhabited the same geographic area at the same time. What they did to coexist was to avoid each other and partition the resources," said Soledad Domingo, a postdoctoral fellow at the U-M Museum of Paleontology and the first author of a paper on the findings published in the Nov. 7 edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

You can read more about their findings here.

-Via Cutting Edge News


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