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The Prehistoric Ungulate Thread



  • I'll keep a look out for fossils of them here... however as I'm mapping out late Cretaceous and very early Triassic I doubt I'll find any of them.

  • Guyett wrote: »
    I'll keep a look out for fossils of them here... however as I'm mapping out late Cretaceous and very early Triassic I doubt I'll find any of them.

    You're in the Pyrenees? :O

  • yep spending 6 weeks here mapping for my dissertation.

  • The strange thing about this, is the thought that keeps going through my head at how much meat is on the beast.

    Odd isn't it? It is a valuable find and all I can think of is how many it could feed.

    Any possibility of a new Ibex clone by the way. A majestic mountain creature like that deserves every chance in my own opinion.

    (What species would be a mother for it?)

  • Rubecula wrote: »

    Any possibility of a new Ibex clone by the way. A majestic mountain creature like that deserves every chance in my own opinion.

    (What species would be a mother for it?)

    The mother species should be another subspecies of Ibex. What caught my eye while reading about the whole Ibex cloning project is that they actually implanted some of the cloned embryos into Ibex females, yet the gestation was for some reason never completed.
    The one that was born after many attempts (I think there were originally over 400 embryos) was actually born from a domestic goat, which belongs to the same genus but a different species.
    (not an Ibex, but a cloned banteng, another endangered species)

    I don´t know if there are ongoing projects to clone the Ibex again- the process seems very difficult and expensive and perhaps they are focusing on other, more endangered species (the Iberian Ibex is a subspecies and there are still others living in Spain and elsewhere). Spain has some critically endangered animals such as the Iberian Lynx, the world's rarest cat species, and I remember hearing about a scientist who was considering to use cloning to preserve it. (How, I don´t know... wouldn´t an already low genetic diversity mean cloning would be useless anyways?)

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  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    (How, I don´t know... wouldn´t an already low genetic diversity mean cloning would be useless anyways?)

    I suppose, in theory, you could use DNA from each individual and map each one's DNA individually to see which ones are the least related to each other and clone them with a view to breeding them thusly. I cannot imagine such an endevour would be easy or cheap for that matter. Even if done meticulously I can't imagine the odds of success (from a conservation POV) would be anything but slim. More than likely, any such clones would be restricted to zoos etc. as I don't see re-population on any large scale being feasible.

  • Galvasean wrote: »
    More than likely, any such clones would be restricted to zoos etc. as I don't see re-population on any large scale being feasible.

    Exactly. As for already extinct species like the mammoth, the dodo or the thylacine, there's no way the species could be "brought back" like scientists like to say. If the creatures were succesfully cloned, they would still belong to functionally extinct species. With the available genetic material I doubt it would be possible to restore the species again. Also, I doubt they would even be willing to release their precious clones into the wild. They would end up as glorified freak show curiosities.

    OMG I'm sounding like Ian Malcolm :(

  • It'll happen more and more as you get older...

  • To be honest this surprised me because I'm pretty sure I read once that it still existed about 4000 years ago... and I read that a while back.


  • Sure it says the same in Liverpool museum

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  • Litopterns were an exclusively South American group of ungulates that include the relatively famous Macrauchenia.


  • It is still impressive all the same! Would loved to have seen the look on their faces as they hauled that one in..


    Comes with added snail shell, too! :pac:


  • Study describes the remains of prehistoric peccaries (of the species Platygonus compressus, a boar-like animal weighing between 40 and 70 kg in average, with some sources suggesting a maximum weight of 160 kg), found at Bat Cave, Missouri, USA.



    Most of the Bat Cave fauna consists of taxa that are extant and are still native to the region. Others, such as the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), yellow-cheeked vole (Microtis xanthognathus), northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis), and fisher (Martes pennanti) are boreal forest taxa whose ranges are far north of the site, suggesting a colder climate at the time of deposition. Extinct taxa include giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus), dire wolf (Canis dirus), and flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus); the latter being not only the most abundantly represented taxon and the subject of the present study, but also the only ungulate reported from the site.

    The flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus) was first discovered in 1806 and described in the mid-19th century (Le Conte, 1848). It was the most common North American peccary species during the late Pleistocene and had a wide distribution, ranging from east to west coast and from Canada to Mexico.

    A larger sample of intact P. compressus mandibles is necessary to better assess sexual dimorphism within this taxon. The maturation of individuals was assessed using tooth eruption sequence and occlusal wear patterns for all tooth-bearing mandibular elements and isolated lower dentition, which has demonstrated that all age groups are represented within the sample from unborn fetal to ∼nine-year-old individuals. These age groups are distinctive and non-overlapping, separated developmentally from one another by nine to 12 months. This suggests that P. compressus engaged in seasonal breeding behaviors, at least in the BC locality and perhaps other parts of the northern temperate zone.

    This finding supports the suggestions made by previous authors (Schubert & Mead, 2012; Kurtén & Anderson, 1980) that caves were ecologically important to this species and offers insight into other P. compressus cave assemblages. At the time of deposition, the BC site appears to have served as a seasonal, communal shelter for local peccaries, most likely during winter. Demographic assessment of the BC peccary population suggests that subadults and younger adults comprised the bulk of the population and individuals five and older gradually became less abundant. Further taphonomic observations, which will be discussed in a future paper, suggest that dire wolves (Canis dirus) hunted or scavenged P. compressus inside the cave shelter.

  • New Pliocene fossils from Tibet reveal origin of sheep:


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  • Prehistoric wildebeest could trumpet like a hadrosaur:


  • On Megaloceros giganteus, the Irish "Elk":

  • what about Aurochs ?

  • Rubecula wrote: »
    what about Aurochs ?


    Fascinating in that they survived until very recently- the last one having died in Poland's Jaktorow Forest in 1627. There is still a monument there dedicated to the species:


    It reads "The Auroch- Bos primigenius bokanus- ancestor of domestic cattle, lived in this forest Jaktorow until 1627".

    I think one of the many interesting things about the auroch is that there are many ancient references to "wild bulls" that were culturally significant for the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Cretan and ancient Greek, which are none other than the auroch. For example, it is said that in Ancient Egypt the auroch could only be hunted by the pharaoh himself, due to being considered sacred, and the tail of the auroch was sometimes carried by the king as a symbol of power. It has been said that the future pharaoh Ramses II had to go through a rite of initiation that involved the capture of a living auroch bull using nothing but a rope; whether this was something all future kings had to go through I do not know. What we do know is that many warrior kings were often compared to the auroch and the lion when praised for their bravery or ferocity in battle.


    Much later, Julius Caesar would describe the auroch as follows in his Commentary on the Gallic Wars:

    "There is a third kind of wild animal which are called uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, color and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this kind of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed"

    It is possible that the auroch was of a temperament similar to that of today's Cape buffalo, and it was of even greater size, with the biggest bulls believed to have weighed up to 1,500 kg. Out of the modern bovids only the Indian gaur (Bos gaurus) approaches this size.


    Its horn shape was more similar to that of the living yak, however:


    The males had larger horns and were black, whereas the females and calves were reddish. The cows were said, however, to be every bit as fierce as the bulls.

    Another interesting fact is that the modern European bison or wisent (Bison bonasus) has been suggested, based on DNA analysis, to be descended from a hybrid species between a Pleistocene bison and the auroch, which would make it the auroch's last wild descendant.


  • well well well I never knew that about the bison x aurochs descendants … It must have been a formidable creature though . I do remember many years ago being shown a leg bone of a cow and one of an aurochs the size of the cow bone looked large in isolation but the aurochs bone was about 4 orders of magnitude bigger again

  • New skull of Decenatherium rex, a prehistoric giraffe from Spain.


  • Spanish scientists come closer to solving the "suid gap" mystery.


    Article is in Spanish.

    Approximately 2.6 million years ago, pigs roamed all around Europe. In this continent, they were represented exclusively by Sus strozzi, a very large species related to those we find today in southeast Asia, such as the Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons), endemic to some Philippine islands and now endangered.

    Surprisingly, this species dissappeared suddenly around 1.8 million years ago. For over 600.000 years, pigs were absent in Europe despite hundreds of thousands of vertebrate remains having been excavated all across the continent. This is what paleontologists know as the "suid gap".

    Equally surprising, around 1.1 million years ago, pigs return to Europe. Until now, it was believed that the species that reconquered the continent was already today's wild boar (Sus scrofa, the wild ancestor of today's domesticated pig). What happened then to Sus strozzi? Where were all the pigs during those 600.000 years?

    Now, an article published in the Quaternary Science Reviews magazine by researchers of the Institut Catala de Paleontologia Miguel Crusafont, along with Italian and French paleontologists, describe remains excavated in two fossil sites which help iluminate the mystey.

    The findings confirm the presence of Sus strozzi from 1.1 million years to 800.000 years ago; in other words, the species returned and then became extinct in Europe much later than believed, only then being definitely replaced by today's wild boar.

    As for where Sus strozzi was hiding all that time (a period of about 600.000 to 700.000 years), the authors suggets two hypothesis. One remote possibility but still worthy of consideration is that quite simply, not enough digging has been done to find their fossils. But the most likely scenario is that indeed, Sus strozzi left. "We believe at some point this species took refuge somewhere in south east Asia to later recolonize Europe about 1.1 million years ago. This may have been due to the dissappearance of wet, forested habitats and their replacement by open, drier environments at about the same time.

    So it is possible that Sus strozzi was ancestral or close to the ancestry of today's Visayan warty pig and other south-east Asian suids. Recently, a group of captive Visayan warty pigs were recorded using tools such as sticks and pieces of bark (and later a spatula given by keepers) to dig holes, making them part of the slowly but steadily growing list of animals known to use tools (although very little is known about their habits in the wild and whether this behavior is extended or exceptional in the species).

  • Not paleontology but, somewhat related. The escaped and by now well established hippos from Pablo Escobar's menagerie have worried scientists for years due to the possible negative impact they could have on the Colombian ecosystems, but it appears their presence may actually be beneficial, filling ecological niches left vacant by the extinct South American megafauna at the end of the Pleistocene.


  • Interesting article sums up what we know about the life appearance of the "Irish Elk", Megaloceros giganteus.


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  • Brain endocast of a large prehistoric deer from South America, Antifer ensenadensis. Unsurprisingly found to be within the size and morphology range of today's deer.