, also known as the giant fossa
, is an extinct
species of carnivore from Madagascar
in the family Eupleridae
, which is most closely related to the mongooses
and includes all Malagasy carnivorans. It was first described in 1902, and in 1935 was recognized as a separate species from its closest relative, the living fossa
). C. spelea
was larger than the fossa, but otherwise similar. The two have not always been accepted as distinct species. When and how C. spelea
became extinct is unknown; there is some anecdotal evidence, including reports of very large fossas, that there is more than one surviving species.
The species is known from subfossil
bones found in a variety of caves in northern, western, southern, and central Madagascar. In some sites, it occurs with remains of C. ferox
, but there is no evidence that the two lived in the same places at the same time. Living species of comparably sized, related carnivores in other regions manage to coexist, suggesting that the same may have happened with both C. spelea
and C. ferox
. C. spelea
would have been able to prey on larger animals than its smaller relative could have, including the recently extinct giant lemurs
. (Full article...