Deinotherium

From Academic Kids

Deinotherium ("terrible beast") was a prehistoric proto-elephant that lived until the Pleistocene. The largest, Deinotherium giganteum, was the second largest land mammal ever: only Indricotherium was larger. A big male stood about 4 to 4.5 meters tall at the shoulders. Its range covered parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Adrienne Mayor, in The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology In Greek and Roman Times, has suggested that Deinothere fossils found in Greece helped generate myths of archaic giant beings. A tooth of a deinothere found on the island of Crete, in shallow marine sediments of the Miocene (see link) raises questions: was Crete connected to the mainland during that time, or did Deinotheres share the often underrated swimming abilities of modern elephants?

It largely resembled modern elephants, except that its trunk was not as long, and it had downward curving tusks attached to the lower jaw. The way Deinotherium used its curious tusks has been much debated. It may have rooted in soil for underground plant parts like roots and tubers, pulled down branches to snap them and reach leaves, or stripped soft bark from tree trunks. Deinotherium fossils have been uncovered at several of the African sites where remains of hominids, prehistoric relatives of modern human beings, have also been found.

Deinotherium is the type genus of the group of Proboscidea called Deinotheres. The large group to which elephants belong formerly contained several other related groups: besides the deinotheres there were the gomphotheres (some of which had shovel-like lower front teeth), and the mastodonts. Only elephants survive today.

External links

de:Deinotherien nl:Deinotherium

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