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Chalicotherium
7. Chalicotherium
Chalicotherium as seened in Walking with Beasts.
Information
Range Europe, Africa, and Asia during the Late Oligocene to Lower Pliocene
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Perissodactyla
Family Chalicotheriidae
Genus Chalicotherium
Species C. goldfussi
C. giganteum
C. brevirostris
C. rusingense
C pilgrimi
C. wetzleri
C salinum
C. wuduensis
C antiquum
C. baltavarense
C. minus
C. posterigenium
C. sindiense
C. sinense
C. sivalense
C pentelicum
C. grande
C. brevirostris
C. modicum
C. bilobatum
C. spp
Conservation Status
EXSpecies
Extinct
The Chalicotherium (Ancient Greek χαλιξ/khalix, khalik-: pebble/gravel + θηρίον/thērion, diminutive of θηρ/thēr : beast) is a genus of extinct browsing odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla and family Chalicotheriidae, found in Europe, Africa, and Asia during the Late Oligocene to Lower Pliocene, living from 28.4—3.6 mya, existing for approximately 24.8 million years.

This animal would look much like other chalicotheriid species: an odd looking herbivore with long clawed forelimbs and stouter weight bearing hindlimbs.

The type species, Chalicotherium goldfussi, from Miocene and Pliocene Europe, was described by J. J. Kaup in 1833 and since then 7 other species have been confidently assigned to this genus. According to current phylogenetic analyses Chalicotherium has two daughter genera nested within it, Anisodon Lartet, 1851 and Nestoritherium J. J. Kaup, 1859, thus rendering it paraphyletic.

Description

Chalicotherium, like many members of Perissodactyla, was adapted to browsing, though uniquely adapted to do so among its ungulate relatives. Its arms were long and heavily clawed, allowing them to walk on their knuckles only. The arms were used to reach for high branches and bring them close to its short-faced head to strip them clean of leaves. The horse-like head itself shows adaptation to a diet of soft vegetation, since, as the animal reached sexual maturity, the incisors and upper canines were shed, suggesting that its muscular lips and the resulting gum pads were enough to crop fodder which was then processed by squarish, low-crowned molars.

Characteristics

Callosities on the ischium imply that these animals would sit on their haunches for extended periods of time, probably while feeding. Pad-supporting bony growth on the dorsal side of the manual phalanges is interpreted as evidence of knuckle-walking, which would probably be useful to avoid wearing down the claws, preserving them for use either as a forage-collecting rake or as a formidable defensive weapon.

All of these characteristics show some convergence with the unrelated ground sloths, gorillas and giant pandas.

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