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A Functional Interpretation Of The Masticatory System And Paleoecology Of Entelodonts

R. M. Joeckel

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Entelodonts are medium to large (perhaps 150–750 kg) Oligocene–Miocene bunodont artiodactyls with unique crania but typical artiodactyl postcrania. Functional and ecological interpretations are difficult because there is no clear modern analog to an entelodont in size, dentition, and cranial morphology. Entelodont crania combine primitive and derived features, including laterally expanded zygomatic arch/large temporal fossa (suggesting a large temporalis muscle), unreduced dental formula, long premolar row, fused mandibular symphysis, isognathy, and subcylindrical dentary condyles. Furthermore, the cranium has unique architectural and ontogenetic aspects unparalleled in extant mammals. Canines show heavy, carnivoran-like, apical wear in old individuals, suggesting regular contact with food. Conical premolars and associated diastemata dominate the tooth row. Premolars are often apically worn, in a fashion somewhat like those of carnivorans (e.g., Crocuta, Borophagus). Molars are low-cusped crushing teeth. Wide gape, indicated by the form of the coronoid process and temporal fossa, facilitated canine and premolar use, probably both in feeding and in social behavior. Jaw mechanics, tooth morphology, and tooth wear are compatible with omnivory and probable scavenging, an intriguing proposition for the huge Dinohyus hollandi.