Great complete teeth
Oligocene Epoch, 37.2-32.4 MYA
Spain, France, Germany, China
Spain, France, Germany China,
6 feet long, 4.5 feet tall at the shoulder, 600 pounds
- Of all the different types of ungulates to have evolved, only entelodonts show specialization for carnivory. The incisors are pointed, interlocking, and angled somewhat forward, a design excellent for nipping and gripping. Their canines are serrated, although these wear down with use, and almost tusklike for delivering deep puncture wounds. Bladelike premolars were used to shear meat.
- Forward-facing eyes provided binocular vision and surprisingly gracile legs would have allowed entelodonts to run rather swiftly. The most damning evidence for their meat-eating habits comes from the myriad of bones bearing entelodont tooth marks, including skulls and limb bones. The fact that many entelodont fossils show heavily worn teeth indicate they regularly bit into and processed bone.
- Scientists have long debated as to whether entelodonts were hunters or scavengers. An enlarged olfactory bulb in the brain and its robustly built skull and dentition would suggest scavenger, as does the fact that entelodont bite marks are found on nearly all of the animals with which they shared their environment. However, not all of these bites were made on dead carcasses.
- A rhino skull was found with prominent punctures that match up perfectly to an entelodont’s premolars. Skulls are a very dense, bony part of the body with little meat so it is an unlikely target for scavenging and only predators with bone-crushing bites attack this area. Predators with powerful bites often target the head to immobilize prey quickly, sometimes in one blow, especially useful if said predator lacks grasping forelimbs. One fossil deposit contained a cache of seven sheep-sized Poebrotherium camels all stacked atop one another. Each carcass consisted of only the front half of the camels and showed clear signs of having been chewed up by an entelodont. Only predators are known to exhibit such caching behavior, killing surplus in times of plenty to save for later consumption.
Despite having nicknames like “Hell pig” and “terminator hog”, entelodonts are not related to pigs. They only look a bit like giant, fanged pigs. Their closest living relatives are actually whales and hippos, although they are only distantly related. Entelodonts are famous for their oversized heads and fearsome jaws. On cow-sized species like Entelodon and Archaeotherium the skull could measure more than two feet and weigh over fifty pounds fully fleshed, while giants like the one-ton Daeodon had truly monstrous heads up to a yard long. Their jaws could open more than 90 degrees and clamp down with at least as much bite force as a hippo. Males have distinct bony flanges projecting from their cheeks that may have served as an extra anchor point for jaw musculature, or as a defensive adaptation during fights with rivals. Most species had elongated vertebral spines over the shoulders to help hold up their heavy heads.
Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Mammalia Order - Artiodactyla Family - Entelodontidae Genus - Entelodon Species - E. magnus