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Nimravidae

Nimravidae

Overview

The Nimravidae, sometimes known as false saber-toothed cats, are an extinct family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

ian carnivores
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

 belonging to the suborder Feliformia
Feliformia
The Feliformia are a suborder within the order Carnivora and includes cats , hyenas, mongooses, civets and related taxa. The other suborder of Carnivora is Caniformia...

 and endemic to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 living from the Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

 through the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 epochs (42—7.2 mya), existing for approximately .

Although some nimravids physically resembled the sabre-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat or Sabre-toothed cat refers to the extinct subfamilies of Machairodontinae , Barbourofelidae , and Nimravidae as well as two families related to marsupials that were found worldwide from the Eocene Epoch to the end of the Pleistocene Epoch ,...

s of genus Smilodon
Smilodon
Smilodon , often called a saber-toothed cat or saber-toothed tiger, is an extinct genus of machairodonts. This saber-toothed cat was endemic to North America and South America, living from near the beginning through the very end of the Pleistocene epoch .-Etymology:The nickname "saber-tooth" refers...

, they were not closely related, but evolved
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 a similar form through parallel evolution
Parallel evolution
Parallel evolution is the development of a similar trait in related, but distinct, species descending from the same ancestor, but from different clades.-Parallel vs...

.
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The Nimravidae, sometimes known as false saber-toothed cats, are an extinct family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

ian carnivores
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

 belonging to the suborder Feliformia
Feliformia
The Feliformia are a suborder within the order Carnivora and includes cats , hyenas, mongooses, civets and related taxa. The other suborder of Carnivora is Caniformia...

 and endemic to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 living from the Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

 through the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 epochs (42—7.2 mya), existing for approximately .

Morphology


Although some nimravids physically resembled the sabre-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat or Sabre-toothed cat refers to the extinct subfamilies of Machairodontinae , Barbourofelidae , and Nimravidae as well as two families related to marsupials that were found worldwide from the Eocene Epoch to the end of the Pleistocene Epoch ,...

s of genus Smilodon
Smilodon
Smilodon , often called a saber-toothed cat or saber-toothed tiger, is an extinct genus of machairodonts. This saber-toothed cat was endemic to North America and South America, living from near the beginning through the very end of the Pleistocene epoch .-Etymology:The nickname "saber-tooth" refers...

, they were not closely related, but evolved
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 a similar form through parallel evolution
Parallel evolution
Parallel evolution is the development of a similar trait in related, but distinct, species descending from the same ancestor, but from different clades.-Parallel vs...

. Previously classified as a subfamily of Nimravidae, the barbourofelids have been recently reassigned to their own distinct family Barbourofelidae
Barbourofelidae
Barbourofelidae is an extinct family of mammalian carnivores of the suborder Feliformia, which lived in North America, Eurasia and Africa during the Miocene epoch , existing for approximately .- Taxonomy :...

 (Morlo et al. 2004).

The ancestors of nimravids and felids diverged from their common ancestor, from the Caniformia
Caniformia
Caniformia, or Canoidea , is a suborder within the order Carnivora. They typically possess a long snout and non-retractile claws . The Pinnipedia evolved from caniform ancestors and are accordingly assigned to this group...

-Feliformia
Feliformia
The Feliformia are a suborder within the order Carnivora and includes cats , hyenas, mongooses, civets and related taxa. The other suborder of Carnivora is Caniformia...

 split, in the middle Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

 about 50 million years ago (mya), with a minimum constraint of 43 mya. Recognizable nimravid fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s date from the late Eocene (37 mya), from the Chadronian White River Formation at Flagstaff Rim, Wyoming, to the late Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 (5 mya). Nimravid diversity appears to have peaked about 28 mya. Most had muscular, low-slung, catlike bodies, with shorter legs and tails than typical of cats.

Taxonomy


Nimravidae was named by Cope (1880). Its type is Nimravus
Nimravus
Nimravus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae endemic to North America during the Oligocene epoch , existing for approximately .-Taxonomy:...

.
It was assigned to Fissipedia by Cope (1889); to Caniformia by Flynn and Galiano (1982); to Aeluroidea by Carroll (1988); to Feliformia by Bryant (1991); and to Carnivoramorpha; by Wesley-Hunt and Werdelin (2005).

Nimravids are placed in tribes by some authors to reflect closer relationships in genera within the family. Some nimravids did evolve into large toothed cat-like forms with massive flattened upper canines and accompanying mandibular flanges. Others had dentition similar to felids
Felidae
Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the thirteen terrestrial families in the order Carnivora, although the three families of marine mammals comprising the superfamily pinnipedia are as carnivorous as the...

, or modern cats, with smaller canines. Others had moderately increased canines in a more intermediate relationship between the saber-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat
Saber-toothed cat or Sabre-toothed cat refers to the extinct subfamilies of Machairodontinae , Barbourofelidae , and Nimravidae as well as two families related to marsupials that were found worldwide from the Eocene Epoch to the end of the Pleistocene Epoch ,...

s and felids. The upper canines were not only shorter, but also more conical, than those of the true saber-toothed cats. These are referred to as being False sabre-tooths.

Not only did nimravids exhibit diverse dentition but they also showed the same diversity in size and morphology as felids. Some were leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

-sized, others the size of today's lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s and tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

s, and one had the short face, rounded skull and smaller canines of the modern cheetah
Cheetah
The cheetah is a large-sized feline inhabiting most of Africa and parts of the Middle East. The cheetah is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx, most notable for modifications in the species' paws...

.

Natural history


Nimravids appeared in the late Eocene epoch, about 37 mya, in North America and Asia. The global climate in the middle Eocene had been warm and wet, but in the late Eocene was trending towards cooler and drier. The lush forests of the Eocene were transitioning to scrub and open woodland. This climatic trend continued in the Oligocene, and nimravids evidently flourished in this environment. North America and Asia were connected by the Bering Land Bridge
Bering land bridge
The Bering land bridge was a land bridge roughly 1,000 miles wide at its greatest extent, which joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages. Like most of Siberia and all of Manchuria, Beringia was not glaciated because snowfall was extremely light...

 and shared much related fauna. Europe in the Oligocene was more an archipelago than a continent, though some land bridges must have existed, for Nimravids spread there, as well.

In the Miocene, the fossil record suggests many animals suited for forest or woodland were replaced by grazers suited for living in grasslands, so evidently much of North America and Asia became dominated by savanna. Nimravids disappeared along with the woodlands, but survived in relict
Relict
A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

ual humid forests in Europe to the late Miocene. When conditions ultimately changed there in the late Miocene, the last nimravids disappeared about 9 mya.

Classification

  • Family: Nimravidae
    • Subfamily Nimravinae
      • Genus: Dinictis
        Dinictis
        Dinictis is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae endemic to North America during the Eocene-Oligocene epochs , existing for approximately .- Taxonomy :...

      • Genus: Dinaelurus
        Dinaelurus
        Dinaelurus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, endemic to North America during the Eocene-Oligocene epochs , existing for approximately .It is believed that Dinaelurus was a cursorial predator meaning it ran down its prey...

      • Genus: Dinailurictis
        Dinailurictis
        Dinailurictis is a nimravid belonging to subfamily Nimravinae. It lived during late Oligocene in Europe.Its believed that Dinailurictis is probably a synonym of Quercylurus major, and Quercylurus is a synonym of Nimravus intermedius major...

      • Genus: Eofelis
        Eofelis
        Eofelis is an extinct genus of small nimravid . They were catlike creatures that evolved in parallel with true cats but are not a part of the true cat lineage and have left no living descendants....

      • Genus: Nimravus
        Nimravus
        Nimravus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae endemic to North America during the Oligocene epoch , existing for approximately .-Taxonomy:...

      • Genus: Pogonodon
        Pogonodon
        Pogonodon is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae endemic to North America and Eurasia during the Eocene-Miocene epochs , existing for approximately ..-Taxonomy:Pogonodon was named by Cope...

      • Genus: Quercylurus
        Quercylurus
        Quercylurus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae. Like Pogonodon and Nimravus, it lived during the Eocene epoch ....

    • Subfamily Hoplophoninae
      • Genus: Eusmilis
      • Genus: Hoplophoneus
        Hoplophoneus
        Hoplophoneus is an extinct genus of the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae endemic to North America during the Late Eocene-Oligocene epochs , existing for approximately .-Taxonomy:...


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