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Creature of the Week #27: Andrewsarchus

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 30,747 Galvasean


    In the TV series Walking With (Prehistoric) Beasts Andrewsarchus is depicted as a mighty mammalian monster - the largest meat eating mammal of all time, eating virtually anything unlucky enough to cross it's path.
    Seen here in a music video mash up:


    But what do we really know about Andrewsarchus? Surprisingly little in all actuality. The name Andrewsarchus mongoliensis means "Andrews'(as in legendary fossil hunter Roy Chapman Andrews) ruler of Mongolia". The only remains of this animal is a single incomplete 32" x 22" skull (upper jaw only) and a few scraps of bone found in Mongolia and dating from around 40 million years ago during the Eocene. You can see a cast of the skull for yourself in the American Museum of Natural history in New York.

    Andrewsarchus_NHM_cast_9-8-2009.jpg&sa=X&ei=RLqUTuPEJMW4hAev-fW8Bg&ved=0CAoQ8wc&usg=AFQjCNF6sHNlJcmuoV2rT2KPxYYgRz-dGw
    Or just look at this picture.

    A strange looking beast, Andrewsarchus has been fancifully described as a sheep in a wolf's clothing as it's closest living relatives are believed to be goats while it appears to be a carnivore. However, said relationship with sheep may be incorrect. Some speculate that Andrewsarchus is related more closely to pigs while others suggest that it is so unique that it belongs in a group of it's own.
    So what the heck is it? The short answer is we simply cannot be sure until more remains are found. What we do know is that it was really big. Estimates vary, but the most liberal place it as being some 13 feet in length, over 6 feet tall and weighing in around a metric tonne (1,000 kilograms/2,200 pounds).
    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQvVAPmSRh6fbPFRUFDy9Iyi07ltp32wlLE6dQApV77yfGjOScPrBqosI4FdQ
    Those measurements may not sound all that impressive compared to say the larger meat eating dinosaurs who could weigh in excess of 6 tonnes and stretch to over 40 feet in length, but I assure you if you met one in the flesh you would probably be a lot more concerned than the girl in the illustration above. Keep in mind Andrewsarchus was twice the size of the largest mammalian carnivore of today, the polar bear - an animal capable of hunting whales. Perhaps ironically, seemingly the only mammalian predator bigger than Andrewsarchus was another type of bear, Arctotherium of Pliocene South America.

    So what did Andrewsarchus eat? It's blunt teeth are not immediately recognizable as those of a predator, leading many to believe it to be an omnivore, eating a combination of plant matter and meat. However, it's jaws would have been immensely powerful, capable of crunching through even very large bones. Some argue this as evidence of Andresarchus' nature as a scavenger while others believe the crushing bite negated the need for sharp teeth, allowing Andrewsarchus to deliver a powerful killing blow to it's prey using sheer brute force. Curiously, Andrewsarchus fossils are found in coastal deposits so it may have combed beaches looking for easy prey such as turtles, beached whales or unsuspecting small crocodiles.
    No one can be completely certain as to exactly what this curious animal was using it's jaws to eat. The best we have to work on for now is speculation.
    Sibbick_Andrewsarchus_Aug-2009.jpg&sa=X&ei=CsKUTtLPOoWYhQeN76S7Bg&ved=0CAoQ8wc&usg=AFQjCNE3ofNvqdPpb20ESlZgDftqqJbB-A
    And speculation is an awful lot of fun!

    Speaking of fun, here is Andrewsarchus standing next to several really big things...


Comments



  • They say that Andrewsarchus (can we call it Andy? :D) was more related to entelodonts than to whales after all. It may have been hairless and its snout may have resembled that of a spinosaur somewhat!

    Also, amazing how even this monster of a mammal looks small compared to giant theropods... even the Torvosaurus (the smaller of the ones depicted in that size chart) would make short work of it... :(




  • I dunno, Andy is well placed to get those powerful jaws clasped around a most vulnerable spot indeed...




  • Maybe, but its teeth were blunt- whereas the teeth of theropods (most of them anyways) were sharp and serrated like a shark's... one bite would be devastating, and the theropod has the advantage of height; biting the back of the neck would be very easy : /

    Of course, the theropod's little arms would be at risk :D




  • Ever seen a hyena fight a bull buffalo? They just bite the nads and hang in there until the bitter end. It's not hard to imagine Andy do something similar with a brontotheire.




  • Galvasean wrote: »
    Ever seen a hyena fight a bull buffalo? They just bite the nads and hang in there until the bitter end. It's not hard to imagine Andy do something similar with a brontotheire.

    Yeah, no doubt about that. But a theropod would be a completely different matter XD

    You know, I think that when ur as big as Andrewsarchus, u can eat whatever the hell you want. I don´t think it was super-specialized.


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  • I don't really think Andy would stand much of a shot against those monsters. I just like sticking up for the underdog that's all.




  • Galvasean wrote: »
    I don't really think Andy would stand much of a shot against those monsters. I just like sticking up for the underdog that's all.

    :D Someone has to be their champion




  • In the TV series Walking With (Prehistoric) Beasts Andrewsarchus is depicted as a mighty mammalian monster - the largest meat eating mammal of all time, eating virtually anything unlucky enough to cross it's path.

    **********
    Perhaps ironically, seemingly the only mammalian predator bigger than Andrewsarchus was another type of bear, Arctotherium of Pliocene South America.

    Slight disagreement with itself there, maybe?

    Anyway it was big and chewed the fat.

    Was it related to the Killer pig at all do we know?




  • Rubecula wrote: »
    In the TV series Walking With (Prehistoric) Beasts Andrewsarchus is depicted as a mighty mammalian monster - the largest meat eating mammal of all time, eating virtually anything unlucky enough to cross it's path.

    **********
    Perhaps ironically, seemingly the only mammalian predator bigger than Andrewsarchus was another type of bear, Arctotherium of Pliocene South America.

    Slight disagreement with itself there, maybe?

    Anyway it was big and chewed the fat.

    Was it related to the Killer pig at all do we know?

    Indarctos (an earlier kind of bear) may have been much larger than Arctotherium. Ursus maritimus tyrannus wasn´t too far behind. :>




  • Rubecula wrote: »
    Slight disagreement with itself there, maybe?

    WWB described it as the biggest mammalian carnivore, not I :P
    Was it related to the Killer pig at all do we know?

    Some believe it is derived form the same family. Unfortunately we can't be sure unless more of teh skeleton is found.


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  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    Indarctos (an earlier kind of bear) may have been much larger than Arctotherium. Ursus maritimus tyrannus wasn´t too far behind. :>

    I thought Indarctos was only have the size of Arctotherium?




  • Galvasean wrote: »
    I thought Indarctos was only have the size of Arctotherium?

    I've heard some truly monstrous Indarctos fossils were once said to belong to a three ton specimen. No one has said anything else about it, but no one has refuted it either...

    Kinda like with the really big Utahraptors.




  • :eek:




  • If you go down to the woods today you'll be in for a BIG surprise!


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