Today, lions, hyenas, and hunting dogs are the iconic predators at the top of the African food chain. But they haven't always been king. They inherited their dominant role as apex carnivores from an ancient, extinct lineage of meat-eaters: the hyaenodonts.
Once found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, these carnivores were equipped with more meat-slicing teeth than big cats. They ranged from the size of a weasel to a rhino.
Over the last few years, Ohio University researchers Nancy Stevens and Matthew Borths have discovered new species in Egypt and Tanzania, new specimens of juveniles, and new specimens of a colossal hyaenodont from Kenya.
“With all of these new fossils we are gaining a better understanding of how these animals lived and why they ultimately went extinct,” said Borths, a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
Join Borths and Professor of Biomedical Sciences Stevens at their Science Café, “Before Lions Were King: Discovering Africa’s First Meat-eaters,” at 5 p.m., Wed., Dec. 6 in the Baker Center Front Room. And meet the hyaenodonts, the big cats that evolved alongside our primate ancestors.
Science Cafés are part of Ohio University’s Café Series, Wednesdays at the Baker Center Front Room. The series provides a venue for students to informally share their interests during a conversational exchange with faculty presenters, staff and the Athens community. Free coffee is offered to the first 50 attendees, and participants who ask questions can win a free t-shirt.
The series is supported by the Ohio University Research Division and Sigma Xi.
Learn more! Watch the 1-minute Café Series video: