SCIENTISTS have reconstructed the genome of the extinct cave hyena – using DNA traces from pieces of fossilised dung.
The achievement, which used cutting edge technology, has supported the idea that the animal – which died out 25,000 years ago - was closely related to the modern spotted hyena.
The analysis of the “coprolites” also allowed the researchers, based in Essonne, Ile-de-France, to work out what the animal had for its last meal – a red deer.
“By studying coprolites we will be able to make an inventory of the fauna of the period,” said biologist Jean-Marc Elalouf.
This is the first time this has been done for an extinct carnivore.
The researchers will now focus on a prehistoric wolf whose remains were found at the Chauvet painted cave in the Ardèche.