Entelodonts. Also known as “hell-pigs”, though they were related more closely to hippos and whales than to pigs, Entelodonts were huge pig-like animals that lived during the Eocene-Miocene and appeared to have been one of the largest and most formidable land predators and/or scavengers alive at the time. They were omnivores, mostly, but judging by the massive design of their jaws it’s fairly obvious that they would have tackled large prey as well as plant matter. It is thought that they would have preyed on animals as large as Eporeodon, which grew to the size of a cow. And apparently some Entelodonts, such as Archaeotherium, have been discovered to have hoarded or cached their food- with the discovery of a cache of several early camels. They were so successful that they existed on this planet for approximately 21 million years.
The largest was horse-sized Daeodon, which could have weighed up to 930lbs and stood at around 6.9 feet tall.
Do you know that thing about Andrewsarchus possibly being a relative of entelodonts?
This question opened up a rabbit hole of extinct mammal classifications that I may never fully recover from falling into.
Andrewsarchus is an extinct mammal from Eocene Mongolia, approximately 45 million years ago. It is currently known from only one fossil - the skull pictured above, which measures almost three feet in length. Based on its great size, and its large and powerful-looking teeth, its discoverer - 20th century naturalist, paleontologist, and Indiana Jones inspiration Roy Chapman Andrews - claimed it was the largest known land-going mammalian carnivore.
Based on the shapes of its muzzle and teeth, Andrewsarchus was classified as a mesonychid. Mesonychids were carnivorous animals resembling wolves, but were actually artiodactyls (”even-toed ungulates”), more closely related to horses than to canines.
Since the shape of its body is unknown, Andrewsarchus was frequently reconstructed as a massive doglike animal, such as in the BBC miniseries Walking With Prehistoric Beasts.
However, more recent analysis and anatomical comparisons show that Andrewsarchus was not a mesonychid at all. It was instead more closely related to entelodonts.
Entelodonts - as depicted by Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, above - resemble pigs, and were in fact artiodactyls along with pigs, but were more closely related to hippos. Based on this new evidence, Andrewsarchus has been given a more accurate reconstruction, and now is speculated to have looked like this:
…Well, that’s kind of a letdown, isn’t it? It’s not the gigantic slavering dog-beast we all once thought. It was actually a pretty average-looking animal. It didn’t practice its scowl in the mirror, and it didn’t walk around with its teeth constantly exposed. It was, in short, a real-life animal, and not a “prehistoric beast”.
That’s more than I can say for those movie-monster entelodonts up there. Entelodons - animals frequently referred to as “hell pigs”, in a rare case of prehistoric mammals experiencing the monsterization that so frequently plagues dinosaurs - are traditionally reconstructed with terrifying horns and spikes jutting forth from their heads, based on their presence on the skulls; however, it’s much more likely that these bone struts were completely internal, and supported large and powerful jaw muscles.
Not every animal with a weird-looking skull is a carnivorous monster. When in doubt, remember that hippo skulls look like this:
Imagine what paleontologists fifty million years from now might imagine at the sight of such a beast!
I’m gonna be paying at least $400+ to get everything tanned this fall/winter
and I’m gonna save up 1k+ for a gaming computer
after those two things are taken care of I think I’m going to start saving up for a fossil skull
Ever since I was a little kid I made it my goal to own a REAL fossil skull before I die. It’ll be super expensive but I really want a skull from something extinct. Leaning towards cave/short-faced bear, wooly rhino, mammoth, direwolf, megaloceros etc but I would LOVE an entelodont skull