Monday, June 18, 2012

Prehistoric Animal of the Week: Paraceratherium

Welcome to the new "Creature of the Week" post! We took a little bit of extra time to decide on the prehistoric animal we were going to review and after some careful consideration, we have our rhinoceros. Let's pump our fists in welcome of Paraceratherium.

Paraceratherium (sp.)
Otherwise known as Indricotherium, this rhinoceros ancestor is one of the largest land mammals known to science. Praceratherium was approximately 5.5 meters (18 ft) tall at the shoulder, 10 meters (33 ft) in length from nose to rear. When the head was raised it would reach a height of about 8 meters (26 ft). Weight estimates are about 20 metric tons (30 short tons). Paraceratherium was by all accounts an herbivore. It lived during the Eocene to the Oligocene from about 37.2 to 23 million years. Paraceratherium was essentially a large hornless over-sized rhinoceros. It had tusk-like upper teeth and forward-pointing lower teeth. The upper incisors pointed down, while the lower incisors jutted outward from their position. Paraceratherium's lips were extremely mobile and probably aided the herbivore with stripping leaves from trees. What can be inferred from Paracertherium is that the animal was a browser that enjoyed leaves, twigs, and possibly shrubbery. Named in 1911 by Forster Cooper, Paraceratherium has a complex taxonomic history with names like Balucatherium and Indricotherium being in reference to this magnificent beast. Paraceratherium lived in Eurasia and Asia and its remains were found originally in Pakistan in 1911. 

Paraceratherium credit Christopher DiPiazza 2012 (c)
That does it for this week. Stayed tuned for next week as we take another look at another prehistoric critter from long ago! If you have a suggestion, e-mail me at: tyrannosaur*at*jplegacy.org.

References
Lucas, S. G. & Sobus, J. C. (1989), The Systematics of Indricotheres. 358-378 in Prothero, D. R. & Schoch, R. M., (eds.) 1989: The Evolution of Perissodactyls, Oxford University Press, New York, New York & Oxford, England, ix-537 - argues that Indricotherium should be included under Paraceratherium

Antoine P.-O., Shah, S.M.I., Cheema, I.U., Crochet, J.-Y., de Franceschi, D., Marivaux, L., M├ętais, G., Welcomme, J.-L. (2004). New remains of the baluchithere Paraceratherium bugtiense(Pilgrim, 1910) from the Late/latest Oligocene of the Bugti Hills, Balochistan, Pakistan. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 24: 71–77.

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