17 Roar-some Hyaenodon Facts That Kids Will Love

Anusuya Mukherjee
Sep 13, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Sep 13, 2022
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Hyaenodon facts talk about their large head.
Age: 1-99
Read time: 6.2 Min

Hyaenodon is one of the apex predators of the Mammalia class of animals. The name of the species has been derived from the term 'hyena tooth'.

These species are a prime family of carnivorous mammals which have existed around 40 to 15 million years ago. Even though these species were considered to be apex predators, they went extinct without leaving any descendants of their own during the Miocene era.

The typical carnivores were among the largest terrestrial animals that have been found in North America as well as parts of Asia and Europe. The biggest Hyaenodon used to prey upon the smaller animals with their strong jaws and teeth facilitating such hunting behavior.

There have been several taxonomic differences among the species of Hyaenodon, which compelled them to compete against each other all the time. The genus consisted of around 16 species approximately, along with two subgenera of Neohyaenodon and Protohyaenodon, respectively.

Hyaenodons were not one of the brightest creatures as known, but they were one of the scariest of creatures for sure!

There are reports that suggest that this genus even hunted down larger carnivores like the false sabertooth cat or nimravids.

Generally, these creatures would prey on some of the early species of camels and other smaller animals, along with primitive horse species like the Mesohippus. The Hyaenodons usually existed in the plain regions where they hunted for food with their heightened ability to smell.

Unfortunately, Hyaenodons were creodonts. Now, creodonts couldn't survive the Miocene era due to the emergence of carnivores that were better than them and, as a result, perished due to natural selection.

These new carnivores were called bear dogs. Within the bear dog group, researchers have speculated that the mammal that most affected the Hyaenodons was the Amphicyon. The Amphicypon were far more adapted to hunt on open grounds, along with the fact that their physical structure was bigger and stronger.

It is more than possible that the Hyaenodons actually lost out their prey to packs of these bear dogs, and this drove them to extinction during the Early Miocene period.

Currently, the Hyaenodon has similarities with hyenas, as can be derived from their name.

Read on to learn some more intriguing information about these mammalian carnivores.

Hyaenodon Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Hyaenodon'?

Hyaenodon is pronounced as 'high-ee-nod-on'. 

What type of dinosaur was a Hyaenodon?

Based upon the origin and the history of the animal, the Hyaenodons are mammals that were known to be apex predators. They have been known for preying upon small animals and even their own species as well.

Although the name Hyaenodon translates into 'hyena teeth', the only similarity that they posed along with hyenas is that they both are mammals and they are carnivores.

Apart from this, Hyenas do not really share a lot of taxonomic similarities with the Hyaenodons. Hyaenodons were considered to be one of the top predators during the Late Eocene through the Early Miocene era and have dominated landscapes on preying upon small creatures through the Oligocene periods.

Thus, it can be proved beyond doubt that the Hyaenodons were actually not dinosaurs. Dinosaurs perished long before the Hyaenodons even existed.

In which geological period did the Hyaenodon roam the Earth?

The studies have suggested that the Hyaenodon existed around Late Eocene through the Early Miocene era. These creatures are actually thought to have dominated the period between the Miocene and the Eocene, the Oligocene period.

When did the Hyaenodon become extinct?

The Hyaenodons actually went extinct during the Miocene period. Even though this genus was quite dominant in the period before the Miocene, the Oligocene, they actually couldn't survive the Miocene due to the dawn of newer and stronger carnivores that almost entirely took their share of food.

Researchers put their extinction period at somewhere between 23 to 15 million years ago.

As mentioned already, Hyaenodons went extinct due to the emergence of Amphicyons in their natural habitats. Amphicyons were bear dogs who hunted in packs and were much stronger physically than the Hyaenodon.

As a result, prey caught by the Hyaenodon could have easily been snatched away by the bear dogs who attacked in packs. This would have ultimately led to the Hyaenodons not getting adequate food resources and perishing.

Where did Hyaenodon live?

The Hyaenodon lived in parts of the plains of North America, Asia, and Europe. Whether they lived in Africa or not is still a major question within the science community. Most reports agree that the Hyaenodons actually did not live in the continent of Africa.

What was the Hyaenodons' habitat?

Being carnivores, the Hyaenodons actually lived in plains and forests where they could hunt for other animals.

Who did the Hyaenodon live with?

Species of Hyaenodons, including the largest species of H. gigas, actually could have lived in small packs. However, there isn't any conclusive data found from the fossils of these carnivores.

How long did a Hyaenodon live?

The lifespan of these predators cannot be estimated due to a lack of data.

How did they reproduce?

Unfortunately, studies of these predators have not yielded any answers regarding their reproductive process, because of which facts about their sexual maturity age, clutch size, or gestation period are also unknown. However, it has been known that they were mammals and probably gave birth to live children.

Hyaenodon Fun Facts

What did the Hyaenodon look like?

Some species of Hyaenodons were some of the largest terrestrial carnivorous mammals of that time. They had a massive skull but a very small brain, along with having sharp teeth, which made them canine carnivores who used to shear meat.

The size of the body measured from 833 lb (378 kg), while the length was around 10 ft (3m) for the biggest species, H. gigas. The smallest one's size estimated the weight to be only 22-55 lb (10-25 kg). The skull size was like dogs, and the tooth was extremely sharp.

The jaws were one of the significant features of this animal and were not that large in size. The upper jaw helped them in being one of the primal predators during the end of the Oligocene period. The teeth were considered to be one of the significant features which helped them prey on other animals.

Even though they share their name, Hyaenodons weren't closely related to the modern hyenas.

How many bones did a Hyaenodon have?

Unfortunately, we cannot measure the total number of bones of the Hyaenodons from the fossils that have been discovered.

How did they communicate?

Again, like most carnivorous mammals of that era, it is highly probable that the Hyaenodons actually communicated with each other through certain calls and vocalizations. Apart from this, they also may have intimidated other species through aggressive gestures.

How big was the Hyaenodon?

The Hyaenodon had a wide range of sizes, with the largest species, H. gigas, growing up to 10 ft (3 m) in length and 4 in (10 cm) tall in height measured at their shoulders. However, even then, the average Hyaenodons were thought to be smaller than the Hyainailouros, another species belonging to the Hynaedonta Order.

How fast could a Hyaenodon move?

Unfortunately, there isn't enough evidence to fathom the exact speed of the Hyaenodon. However, many in the paleontology science community assume that these creatures were fast.

How much did a Hyaenodon weigh?

Due to a large number of species over one genus and two subgenus, the weight of Hyaenodons varied from as little as 11 lb (5 kg) to 833 lb (378 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

No particular name was assigned to either sex.

What would you call a baby Hyaenodon?

A baby Hyaenodon has not been given any specific name.

How aggressive were they?

Since the creatures were known to be predators during their time, it is fairly obvious that they were quite aggressive in nature.

Did you know…

There are some suggestions from the paleontology community that say these creatures went extinct due to the evolution of their prey. Primitive horses and early camels slowly developed longer legs during the Miocene period, which actually helped them run away from the Hyaenodons. It is assumed that the carnivores did not evolve sufficiently to keep up with their prey.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You






See All

Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

Read full bio >