A New Study Proves Ancient Hyenas Inhabited Canada During the Ice Age

Latest fossil discovery proves that hyenas were once wandering in the North.
Irmak Bayrakdar

A recent study on the fossil discoveries of 1973 proves that ancestors of hyenas we know today were once wandering in the cold, vast tundra we know as the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada.

According to the study led by a team of archeologists that have studied the fossils discovered in Northern Canada, the "two teeth fossils" belong to an ancient species of hyenas, also scientifically known as Chasmaporthetes.

These teeth that were discovered almost 50 years ago, remained a mystery to the paleontologists who found them and have never been studied before.


Usually found in warmer climates, hyena fossils this far North were inexplicable to the paleontology community, until the recent research study led by Jack Tseng.

Tseng, a paleontologist at the University at Buffalo in New York, took up the fossils and decided to study them with his knowledge on the animals. While the referred teeth were found to be a million years old; older teeth have been found in the continent of America, aged 4.7 million years.

Hyena fossils have also appeared in numerous places before, including Europe, Mexico, America, and Asia. However, these fossils were found to be normal as the climates matched.

A New Study Proves Ancient Hyenas Inhabited Canada During the Ice Age
Source: Unsplash

This news changes what we know about extinct species of hyenas. As the news states, these animals can adapt to any kind of climate ranging from steaming savannas or deserts to cold tundras during the Ice Age. Of course, they must have undergone some changes to adapt to different conditions, according to Tseng.

Considering these mammals are usually associated with African and Asian Savannas, it is surprising to find out these agile carnivores made all their way to colder climates.

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Hyenas are thought to have migrated to Arctic territory through Beringia, where the Bering Strait is today. Back in the day when the sea level was low, it created an easy passageway for the animals.

Whether the Bering land bridge was used by extinct hyenas was a topic of discussion among scientists for a long time, since the first fossil was found in America. However, it was not accepted by some.

These new research results by Tseng is probably another proof for the Bering theory.

These ferocious animals probably found themselves in Arctic territories while hunting and feeding on other animal carcasses such as horses and reindeers on the vast tundra that connects Siberia and Canada, according to experts.

While they were around in the Arctic region some 1 million years ago, it has been revealed that they weren't able to survive until the coming of the first men to America.