Temporal range: Early Eocene to Late Oligocene
|Anthracotherium gastaldii skull and jaws|
Anthracotherium ("Coal Beast") was a genus of extinct artiodactyl ungulate mammals, characterized by having 44 teeth, with five semi-crescentic cusps on the crowns of the upper molars. The genus ranged from the early Eocene period until the late Oligocene, having a distribution throughout Eurasia. The last species died out near the end of the Oligocene.
The genus typifies the family Anthracotheriidae, if only because it is the most thoroughly studied. In many respects, especially the anatomy of the lower jaw, Anthracotherium, as with the other members of the family, is allied to the hippopotamus, of which it is probably an ancestral form. Recent evidence further suggests that anthracotheres, together with hippos, may be close to the ancestry of the whales.
The European Anthracotherium magnum was approximately as large as a pygmy hippo (about 2 m long and weighting up to 250 kg), but there were several smaller species and the genus also occurs in Egypt, India and North America. Members of the genus Anthracotherium, as well as other members of the family Anthracotheriidae, are known colloquially as anthracotheres.
Anthracotherium sp. coprolite at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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