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Secrets of extinct hyena revealed

Researchers have reconstructed the prehistoric animal’s genome – by analysing fossilised dung

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.

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