Biggest Mammal Carnivore Ever?

In 1923 a member of Roy Chapman Andrews’ expedition to the Gobi Desert found a yard-long skull that scientists thought belonged to the largest land-dwelling carnivorous mammal ever–Andrewsarchus, named for RCA himself. Since then, no other Andrewsarchus fossils have been found.

I’ve seen this skull in the America Museum of Natural History. It’s a whopper. The muscle attachments are simply huge, indicating a bite of tremendous power. The teeth do look like a carnivore’s teeth, but they also look kind of dull and worn. Based on comparisons to fossils that looked similar, paleontologists reconstructed this awesome beast that had little hooves instead of claws and must have weighed upwards of a ton.

But, despite the wonderful special effects wizardry of Tim Haines, it’s all just speculation. Well, when you see that skull, you can’t help speculating.

I’ve got to work this critter into one of my books, somewhere along the line. Maybe it could eat a villain.

6 comments on “Biggest Mammal Carnivore Ever?

  1. I find it interesting how much they seem to infer from a simple skull. No one knows if it had hooves or paws and its behavior can only be guessed at beyond the fact that it appears to be a carnivore.
    Good old science, when the facts are scant, you can always make up something to cover the gaps. 🙂

    1. Paleontologists often have to use their imaginations, and sometimes they wind up with egg on their faces–like with Henry Fairfield Osborn’s much-ballyhooed “Nebraska Man,” which turned out to be a pig’s tooth.

      The jury is very much out on Andrewsarchus. But it’s an awfully impressive skull.

    2. Because the skull resembled other skulls belonging to similar animals that did have those little hooves instead of claws. But now most of them think the resemblance isn’t that compelling anymore.

  2. Even if they’re clueless about these prehistoric creatures, it’s fun to wonder what they could have looked like and what their social structure was.

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