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Chasmaporthetes was one of several extinct hyena genera which hunted prey at high speed, had slender teeth and high, slender legs, rather like a modern African cheetah. The hyena's front legs were longer than its rear legs. They appeared roughly 10 million years ago, and were an important predator through their range, one of the few hyaenid genera to compete successfully with canids in Europe and North America. It was the only hyaenid genus which crossed the Bering Strait into North America, during the Pliocene epoch. Built for speed, these animals ranged over what is now Arizona and Mexico during Blancan and early Irvingtonian Land Mammal Ages, between 5 to 1.5 million years ago.

The last Chasmaporthetes species became extinct during the Pleistocene as a result of the Ice Ages.

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