Andrewsarchus (Andrewsarchus mongoliensis) was the largest carnivorous land mammal ever.
Meaning of scientific name
“Andrews’ beast” – after palaeontologist Roy Chapman Andrews.
Pronunciation of scientific name
Andrewsarchus had a skull of about 83cm, which would make it about 1.8m high and 5m long – the largest meat-eating land mammal ever.
Andrewsarchus was a carnivorous hoofed mammal known from only one skull. The skull is characteristic of its closest relatives, the mesonychids, who all have a dog-like shape with long, powerful jaws.
Andrewsarchus was the largest terrestrial mammalian carnivore known on the basis of the length of the skull However, since the known morphology of Andrewsarchus is entelodont-like and consequently very different to mesonychids in habits and likely in body proportions.
An Andrewsarchus skull has been found in Mongolia. One of the most fascinating facts about Andrewsarchus is that it is only known from this single skull. This skull, which looks very much like a wolf’s skull, is about 3 feet tall and exhibits all of the requisite markers needed to label this animal a mammal.
They lived on the shores, river banks and plains of Asia.
Andrewsarchus probably scavenged along the waters edge. Their teeth and jaws were very strong and so apparently had a diet including a lot of hard items such as bone and turtle shell.
The fossils of the group most closely related to Andrewsarchus – the mesonychids – are usually found singly, and around water, and this attachment to water became greatly exaggerated in one group of its relatives which eventually became entirely marine – the whales. It is thought that they were solitary animals.
They lived 60-32 million years ago.
Best place to see
Natural History Museum.
Their closest living relatives are the modern whales and cloven-hoofed animals (artiodactyls). In fact, Andrewsarchus is closely related to hippos and to whales, both members of a larger order of artiodactyls. This group of two-toed hoofed mammals also includes sheep, pigs, cows, deer, giraffes, and antelopes. Today, hippos are the largest land artiodactyls, and cetaceans—whales, dolphins, and porpoises—are the only aquatic artiodactyls.