Facts about Chalicotheres, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Chalicotheres



Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Mammalia
  Order Perissodactyla
  Family Chalicotheriidae
Chalicotheres a group of odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyls) that lived from the Eocene epoch to the Pliocene epoch, between about 40 million and 2 million years ago. They are related to the extinct Brontotheres, as well as horses, rhinoceroses and tapirs.

The distinctive feature of Chalicotheres is that their hind limbs were considerably shorter than their front limbs. The front limbs were also equipped with claws. As a result of this, it is believe that Chalicotheres walked with most of the weight on their hind limbs, but probably also used the knuckles on their front limbs to support themselves (a similar posture to modern gorillas).

Chalicotheres were herbivores (plant-eaters), and it was once thought they they may have used the claws on their front limbs to dig for roots and tubers. The very limited amount of wear on their claws and teeth does not however support the digging hypothesis, and so it is now thought more likely that Chalicotheres were browsers who used their claws to help strip foliage from trees.

The larges Chalicotheres were about the size of a horse, and Chalicotheres are sometimes described as being like "horses with claws" - but while there is some superficial resemblance, such a description can actually be misleading. As already noted, Chalicotheres posture was very different from that of horses, and additionally Chalicotheres were much more heavily built than horses.

Although mainstream scientists generally believe that Chalicotheres are extinct, there is perhaps a small possibility that some may survive. Some cryptozoologists (people who searched for rumored animals whose existence is uncertain), believe that an animal that supposedly lives in Kenya, and which is usually known as the "Nandi Bear", may actually be a surviving Chalicothere. Some descriptions of the Nandi Bear, seem to contain features that match Chalicothere features (although the Nandi Bear is usually described as a carnivore) - of course, the existence of the Nandi Bear at all, let alone whether it is a surviving Chalicothere, currently remains unproven.

Chalicotheres Timeline:

Chalicotheres were herbivorous (plant-eating) mammals that lived between 40 and 2 million years ago

Chalicotheres were herbivorous (plant-eating) mammals that lived between 40 and 2 million years ago

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