Scientists discover a 22 million-year-old meat-eating animal

Scientists discover a new meat-eating animal
Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, a gigantic carnivore known from most of its jaw, portions of its skull, and parts of its skeleton, was a hyaenodont that was larger than a polar bear. Credit: Mauricio Anton.

In a new study, scientists have discovered a new species of meat-eating mammal dated back to 22-million years ago.

The animal was named Simbakubwa kutokaafrika. It was larger than a polar bear. It had a skull as large as that of a rhinoceros and enormous piercing canine teeth.

The researchers suggest that this meat-eating animal would have been an intimidating part of the eastern African ecosystems.

The research was conducted by a group of paleontologists at Ohio University.

They unearthed the fossils in Kenya decades ago as they canvassed the region searching for ancient apes.

At that time, the specimens were placed in the National Museums of Kenya and the team did not give a great deal of attention.

In the current study, they rediscovered the fossils and recognized their significance.

They found the animal was an extinct hyaenodont, which was the first type of mammalian carnivores in Africa.

Scientists suggest that after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, hyaenodonts had become big predators in Africa for about 45 million years.

They were likely originated on the African continent and then moved northward.

Although scientists don’t know exactly what caused the extinction of hyaenodonts, they suggest that ecosystems were changing quickly as the global climate became drier.

The gigantic relatives of Simbakubwa were among the last hyaenodonts on the planet.

The researchers suggest that the fossils provide important information for understanding evolutionary history.

The lead authors of the study are Ohio University researchers Dr. Nancy Stevens and Dr. Matthew Borths.

The study is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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