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With ecosystems as varied as oceans, plains and frozen tundras, North America is home to some giant and ferocious predators. But these modern creatures — including alligators, great white sharks and polar bears — look minuscule next to the continent's slew of ancient predators. So, what are the largest predators that have ever lived in North America?

As for furry animals, North America's largest predatory mammal was probably the massive short-faced bear (Arctodus simus), said Ross MacPhee, senior curator of mammals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Sometimes affectionately called the "bulldog bear," this now-extinct creature had a signature short, broad muzzle. It stood around 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) tall at the shoulder and over 11 feet (3.4 m) on its lanky hind legs, according to the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History.

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