Bear-dogs were neither bears nor dogs, but a group of their own related to both.
Meaning of scientific name
These dog-like animals were 30cm at the shoulder.
They ranged from small and dog-like to very large animals, which were more like modern grizzly bears.
Bear-dogs were commonly found in Eurasia during the Oligocene. They spread to North America and well-preserved fossils, burrows and footprints have been found there.
They lived on the grassless scrubby plains of Asia and North America.
They fed on small rodents and rabbits.
Fossilised footprints of the larger species show that they walked very much like modern bears, with their feet flat on the ground and moving the two left legs and two right legs together alternately. The smaller species lived in underground dens, and could probably burrow for their prey if it outran them.
They lived 40-9 million years ago. Bear-dogs, or amphicyonids, were one of the members of the 'dog-branch' of the carnivora - the group to which our modern 'true carnivores' belong. The dog-branch today contains the dogs, bears, mustelids (weasels, badgers etc.), raccoons and skunks. The amphicyonids became extinct.
Best place to see
New Walk Museum.
Modern bears, dogs and other members of the dog-branch of the carnivores.