One of the defining characteristics in Ozark Howler folklore is that the beast is difficult to define. It’s big like a bear, but it isn’t a bear, because it’s got a long tail. Its long tail is like a big cat’s but it’s not a big cat, because its body is too thick, its hair is too long, and its snout is all wrong. It howls like a wolf, but the howl doesn’t sound like a wolf’s howl, really. Besides, the thing has horns. It’s a carnivorous creature with horns, and who has heard of such a thing?
One alternative explanation for the Ozark Howler became apparent this week in scientific news. Paleontologists revisiting old fossil discoveries came across the bones of an ancient, gigantic carnivorous mammal that was neither a bear, nor a wolf, or a cat. Taxinomically, it’s not a member of the group Carnivora at all.
Yet, it hunted down prey and ate meat, and was larger than a polar bear. It was part of a group of animals called hyaenodonts.
What’s more, this carnivorous creature was larger than a polar bear.
Though the latest fossil discovery was in Africa, hyaenodont bones have been found in North America as well. Perhaps the Ozark Howler is the last vestige of this once-global group of top predators.