During the Cenozoic Era, creatures that roamed the earth were quite different than what we see today. About 30 million years ago, new mammal species started to emerge. These creatures would give way to evolution of modern horses, camels, and pigs. The animals are large in size , some as big as dinosaurs. In this article, you will learn more about such creatures, including the Indricotherium, which was the largest land mammal ever.
Largest Prehistoric Mammal
The Indricotherium belonged to the family Hyrachyidae, which was a rhinocerotid that dwelled in the western part of Asia and Europe. Roaming the earth about 35 million years ago, the creature had a long neck and did not have any horns like the rhinoceros of today. The beast measured 17 feet and 9 inches from the top of its shoulder hump and was 37 feet long.
Largest Thunder Beast
During prehistoric times, the thunder beast was a gigantic odd-toed ungulate. This meant that it was a mammal that walked on their toenails, such as the modern-day horse. Also called a brontotheres or titanotheres, the thunder beast resembled a rhinoceros. The largest of its kind was called the Brontotherium, which called North America its home about 56 to 34 million years ago. Characteristics of the creature included a rather large Y-shaped horn structure made out of bone that was positioned on its nose.
The mammal was an herbivore, which meant that it dined on greenery. It stood about 8 feet 2 inches tall at the shoulder and could reach a weight up to 2,200 pounds. Native American Indians first discovered the large fossilized bones of the mammal, which prompted them to believe they had found the remains of a legendary beast they called the thunder horse, which jumped down from the sky to Earth, making loud sounds during thunderstorms. Because of this folklore, scientists decided to name the animal Brontotherium, which translates into ‘thunder beast.’
First Carnivores on Earth
The first true carnivores emerge 23 million years ago at the start of the Neogene Period. The landscape of earth is transforming into more of a grassland, where 1/5 of the planet possesses this characteristic.
Oldest Intact Mammoth Fossil
A nine-year old reindeer herder discovered the oldest intact mammoth fossil in the world. The fossil is believed to be 23,000 years old and was named the Jarkov mammoth after the boy.
Ties to Mammoths
Elephants and mammoths belong to the same family and are classified under the name Elephantidae. Interestingly, the Asian elephant is a closer relation to the mammoth than the African elephant.
The Evolution of Herbivores
It was 20 million years ago when herbivores start to evolve. They start to grow teeth and their digestive systems respond to their surroundings so that they can better handle the abundance of grass that the earth now flourishes in. The seasons become more defined and the herbivores start to herd and migrate during the changing of climates.