Astrapotherium

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Astrapotherium
Temporal range: Late Oligocene–Mid Miocene
Astrapotherium magnum Skull.jpg
Skull
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Astrapotheria
Family: Astrapotheriidae
Genus: Astrapotherium
Burmeister, 1879
Type species
Astrapotherium magnum
Owen, 1853

Astrapotherium ("Great Lightning Beast") is an extinct genus of South American mammal which vaguely resembled a cross between a small elephant, and a very large tapir. This peculiar-looking animal was unrelated to modern elephants, and was, instead, related to other extinct South American ungulates. Fossil remains of the type and only known species A. magnus have been found in the Santa Cruz Formation in Argentina.

Description[edit]

Restoration

Astrapotherium had an elongated body, with a total length of about 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), a weight of nearly 1000 kg, and relatively short limbs. It had small plantigrade feet, and the hind limbs were significantly weaker than the fore limbs. Its four canine teeth were elongated to form short tusks, and it had broad protruding lower incisors which likely ground against a horny pad in the upper jaw, as in many modern ruminants.[1]

The nostrils were placed high on the head, which might indicate the presence of a trunk, but could equally be due to other reasons, such as an inflatable nasal cavity.

Classification[edit]

Restoration of the head by Robert Bruce Horsfall

Cladogram based in the phylogenetic analysis published by Vallejo-Pareja et al., 2015, showing the position of Astrapotherium:[2]



Eoastrapostylops




Trigonostylops




Tetragonostylops




Albertogaudrya




Scaglia




Astraponotus




Maddenia




Comahuetherium




Parastrapotherium



Astrapotheriinae

Astrapotherium



Astrapothericulus



Uruguaytheriinae

Uruguaytherium





Hilarcotherium



Xenastrapotherium




Granastrapotherium














Paleobiology[edit]

Canine tooth at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

The animal was probably at least partially aquatic, living in shallow water and feeding on marsh plants in a similar manner to a modern hippopotamus.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 248. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  2. ^ M. C. Vallejo-Pareja; J. D. Carrillo; J. W. Moreno-Bernal; M. Pardo-Jaramillo; D. F. Rodriguez-Gonzalez; J. Muñoz-Duran (2015). "Hilarcotherium castanedaii, gen. et sp. nov., a new Miocene astrapothere (Mammalia, Astrapotheriidae) from the Upper Magdalena Valley, Colombia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Online edition. doi:10.1080/02724634.2014.903960. 

External links[edit]