Newly Discovered Ancient Carnivore Was Bigger Than a Polar Bear and Is True Nightmare Fuel
New research describes the remains of a gigantic, four-legged mammalian carnivore that terrorized Africa some 22 million years ago.
The name of this formidable creature is Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, which translated from Swahili means “big lion coming from Africa.” But this was no feline—it belonged to an extinct group of mammals known as hyaenodonts, which have no close relation to any species of mammalian carnivore living today. Larger than a polar bear, and with a head as big as a rhino’s, Simbakubwa spent its time as an apex predator in Eastern Africa around 22 million years ago, eventually going extinct under mysterious circumstances.
Its fossilized remains were discovered in 1980 at an important site in western Kenya called Meswa Bridge. The researchers who found the fossils were actually looking for evidence of ancient apes. Disinclined to study the fossils further, the researchers placed the specimens, which included some cheek bones, upper and lower teeth, bits of jaw, a heel bone, and several claws, in a drawer at the National Museums of Kenya, where they sat ignored for decades.