Polly, P. David Department of Anatomy, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, United Kingdom.
- Hyaenodontidae and Oxyaenidae
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
An extinct order of mammals including the dominant carnivores in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa during much of the Cenozoic. Members of the order Creodonta roamed the Earth for more than 50 million years and then became extinct less than 9 million years ago. Creodonts were not part of the order Carnivora, but they independently evolved carnivorous specializations in their teeth and limbs. They ranged from tiny (Isohyaenodon from Africa was the size of a small weasel) to gigantic (Hyainailouros from Europe and Asia was one of the largest land-dwelling mammalian carnivores ever). The wolflike genus Hyaenodon (see illustration) is probably the most familiar creodont among the more than 180 known species. Most lived in North America and Europe, but new species from Africa and Asia are being described at an incredible rate. See also: Carnivora; Cenozoic; Dentition; Mammalia
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