Saturday, 3 January 2015

Ancient Coyotes Had Larger Jaws, Sharper Teeth

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | December 31, 2014 02:00pm ET

Ancient coyotes hunted large prey, and had larger jaws and sharper teeth to bring down their choice meals than modern-day coyotes do, a new study reports.

The fierce coyotes of the past (Canis latrans) likely ate the young of large animals that roamed North America during the Pleistocene epoch, including juvenile llamas, camels and horses. But climate change and, to a small extent, human hunters, likely killed off these large animals as the Pleistocene ended about 11,500 years ago.

As the average size of its prey shrank, so did the coyote's jaws, said the study's lead author, Julie Meachen, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology at Des Moines University in Iowa.

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