Scientists discover largest carnivorous mammal ever

De Simbakubwa kutokaafrika © AFP/Mauricio Anton

Scientists have discovered one of the largest carnivorous mammals on earth in Kenya.The lion and tiger-like animal, which lived 23 million years ago, probably weighed around 1500 pounds and was almost twice as large as an adult polar bear.

The megacarnivore lived in Eurasia, North America and parts of Africa and the Arab world. The Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, which means “big lion from Africa” in the African language swahili, had been able to attack and kill animals the size of an elephant and hippo.

The post below is part of article “Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, gen. et sp. nov. (Hyainailourinae, Hyaenodonta, ‘Creodonta,’ Mammalia), a gigantic carnivore from the earliest Miocene of Kenya” published at Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology


Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, gen. et sp. nov. (Hyainailourinae, Hyaenodonta, ‘Creodonta,’ Mammalia), a gigantic carnivore from the earliest Miocene of Kenya


Hyainailourine hyaenodonts are among the largest terrestrial carnivorous mammals known. The clade is widely dispersed, found in Eurasia, North America, and Afro-Arabia in the Paleogene and early Neogene. In this study, we describe dental and postcranial material from Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, gen. et sp. nov., the most complete hyainailourine known from sub-Saharan Africa.

The material is from a relatively young adult from the early Miocene locality of Meswa Bridge, Kenya. Simbakubwa differs from Hyainailouros in exhibiting lingually oriented molar protocones, gracile metastyles, and buccolingually compressed, shearing canines.

Like other large Miocene hyainailourines, Simbakubwa has deep carnassial notches on the molars and tall paracones fused to shorter metacones forming single piercing cusps. A Bayesian phylogenetic analysis recovers Simbakubwa as the sister taxon of a clade of large-bodied Miocene hyainailourines that includes Hyainailouros and Megistotherium. Bayesian ancestral state reconstruction supports an Afro-Arabian origin for

Hyainailourinae with subsequent dispersal to Eurasia during the early Miocene. Regression analysis based on carnassial size is applied to Simbakubwa and closely related hyainailourines, recovering a body mass up to 1,500 kg for the new taxon. The evolution and extinction of Hyainailourinae offers important insights for interpreting ecological transitions from Paleogene to Neogene faunas in Afro-Arabia and Eurasia.