A group of scientists has found a fossilised lower jaw of a giant creature that one roamed the Earth. Named Tartarocyon cazanavei, it lived in what is now France – between 12.8 and 12 million years ago.
Also known as the bear-dog, the fossilised body part of the enormous animal was recovered from the marine deposits of Sallepisse in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department, France.
According to Discover Magazine, the paleontologists believe that the lower jaw bone is that of a new species of the bear-dog, or amphicyonid.
A paper on the discovery has been published in PeerJ.
Paleontologist Bastien Mennecart and other co-authors said in the paper that the team found the jawbone had a unique lower premolar, suggesting it belonged to a genus of the predator species never seen before.
The team also claimed that the animal weighed approximately 200 kg.
Mennecart and the team named the species after Tartaro, a powerful, one-eyed giant from Basque mythology. The legend of Tartaro is also known in Bearn, the region where the lower jaw was found.
Many different types of amphicyonid species existed in Europe during the early Miocene period, but went extinct around 7.5 million years ago.
Numerous past studies have shown that amphicyonids displayed typical mesocarnivorous, omnivorous, bone-crushing, and hypercarnivorous diets.
The amphicyon genus was named in 1836 by Edouard Lartet. It originally meant “ambiguous dog”, but in later years, the nickname was changed to “bear-dog”.
Fossils of this species have been found in Nebraska in North America and in France and Spain in Europe.