Friday, November 2, 2012

Platybelodon

Platybelodon sp.
Platybelodon is the name of a genus that contained four different species of Proboscideans (the Order also houses our modern day Elephants). They lived between 15 and 4 million years ago, and while they spread across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, they didn't make it too far past the Miocene.

Platybelodon was a Gomphothere-- a member of a family that contained several other early-Elephant-like animals that had modified shovel-like tusks (along with the recognizable trunks).

It has long been assumed that those weird lower jaws were used to scoop up aquatic plants, but new fossils with wear patterns have emerged, and a new hypothesis is that Platybelodon used that lower jaw to strip bark. They also had sharp lower incisors that could shear apart plant matter held by the trunk!

Sadly, the Platybelodon and all of its close, Gomphothere relatives are now extinct, and the Elephant line we have today descends from a different family all together.

Status : Extinct for 4 Million Years
Location : Europe, Asia, Africa, North America
Size : Length around 10ft (3m), Weight around 2 tons (1,800kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Proboscidea
Family : †Gomphotheriidae -- Genus : †Platybelodon

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