Aepycamelus

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Aepycamelus
Temporal range: early Miocene–late Miocene
Aepycamelus Alticamelus hharder.jpg
Restoration by Heinrich Harder
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Camelidae
Tribe: Camelini
Genus: Aepycamelus
MacDonald, 1956
Species

Aepycamelus alexandrae
Aepycamelus bradyi
Aepycamelus elrodi
Aepycamelus giraffinus
Aepycamelus latus
Aepycamelus major
Aepycamelus priscus
Aepycamelus proceras
Aepycamelus robustus
Aepycamelus stocki

Aepycamelus is an extinct genus of camelid, formerly called Alticamelus, which lived during the Miocene 20.6–4.9 Ma existing for approximately 15.7 million years.[1] Its name is derived from the Homeric Greek αἰπύς, "high and steep" and κάμελος – "camel"; thus, "high camel"; alticamelus in Latin.

Aepycamelus walked on its toes only. Unlike earlier species of camelid, they possessed cushioned pads like those of modern camels.[2]

Morphology[edit]

Restoration of A. elrodi by Robert Bruce Horsfall

Aepycamelus was a prairie dweller of North America (Colorado, etc.). It was a highly specialized animal. Its head was relatively small compared with the rest of its body, its neck was long, as a result of giraffe-like lengthening of the cervical vertebrae, and its legs were long and stilt-like, with the elbow and knee joints on the same level. The top of its head would have been about 3 metres (9.8 ft) above the ground.[2]

Its strange body structure gives us plenty of information on its mode of life and habits. Aepycamelus obviously inhabited dry grasslands with groups of trees. It is presumed to have moved about singly or in small groups, like today's giraffes, and like them, browsed high up in the trees. In this respect it had no competitors. It survived a relatively long time, through most of the Miocene epoch, and died out prior to the start of the Pliocene, possibly due to climatic changes.

Fossil distribution[edit]

Its fossils are distributed widely, from Montana to Florida to California.

References[edit]

  1. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Aepycamelus, basic info
  2. ^ a b Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-84028-152-1. 
  • Benes, Josef. Prehistoric Animals and Plants. Pg. 248. Prague: Artua, 1979.