Chalicotheriidae


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Related to Chalicotheriidae: endopolyploidy, Brontotheriidae

Chalicotheriidae

[‚kal·ə‚kō·thə′rī·ə‚dē]
(paleontology)
A family of extinct perissodactyl mammals in the superfamily Chalicotherioidea.

Chalicotheriidae

 

a family of extinct mammals of the order Perissodactyla. The Chalicotheriidae lived from the Eocene to Pleistocene epochs. They ranged in size from the size of a sheep to that of a large horse, which they probably somewhat resembled in appearance and skull structure. The neck was long. The incisors and canines were small, and the molars were bunolophodont, adapted for eating leaves and soft vegetation. The front legs were long, with four or three digits. The hind legs were relatively short and massive, with three digits. The second digit was enlarged rather than the third, as in other perissodactyls. The digits ended in large, cleft phalanges, bearing thick claws rather than hooves.

On the basis of a number of anatomical features, the Soviet paleontologist A. A. Borisiak believed that the Chalicotheriidae grasped tree trunks in order to obtain food, primarily leaves. Other scientists, such as the Austrian paleontologist O. Abel, believe that the Chalicotheriidae dug up edible roots and tubers with their forelegs. There were about 15 genera, known from Cenozoic deposits in Europe, Asia, and North America. They include Chalicotherium, distributed in Europe during the Pliocene, Borisiakia and Phyllotylon, distributed in Asia during the Miocene, and Moropus, distributed in North America during the Miocene. The Chalicotheriidae originated from the same ancient ungulates as the related Brontotheriidae.

B. A. TROFIMOV