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Animal Database
Palaeomerycidae
Restoration Dromomeryx
Dromomeryx restoration
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Family †Palaeomerycidae

Palaeomerycidae is an extinct family from the order Artiodactyla, probably ancestral to deer and musk deer. They lived in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia from the Eocene to Miocene epoch 55.8 to 5.3 Ma, existing for approximately 50.5 million years. The oldest specimens are of Amphitragulus and found in Aragon, Spain, Ronheim, Germany, and Kazakhstan estimated at 55.8—23.03 Ma. Barbouromeryx was discovered in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska and estimated at 23.03 million years. Palaeomerycidae continued to live in the Old World with fossils of Lagomeryx and Palaeomeryx feignouxi recovered in Germany and Slovakia from the Middle Eocene. In North America Cranioceras and other Dromomerycinae continued to live until the Late Miocene.

Characteristics[]

Palaeomerycids were a group of horned, long-legged, heavy, and massive ruminants that could attain a weight of 350 to 500 kg (770 to 1,100 lb). One of the first known members of this group, Palaeomeryx, was thought to be a hornless form distantly related to the Giraffids before paleontologist Miguel Crusafont found remains of Triceromeryx in Middle Miocene Spain. This Palaeomeryx-like form carried two ossicones over its orbits that were strait and short, similar to those of true Giraffids. However, the most striking feature of Triceromeryx was the third, Y-shaped appendage that prolonged the occipital bone at the back of the skull. Discoveries during the 1980s and 1990s showed a surprising variety in these occipital appendages. Ampelomeryx, a genus of Palaeomerycids found at the early Miocene site of Els Casots, Valles-Penedes Basin, Spain, had a three-horned system of appendages similar to those of Triceromeryx. These appendages were, however, quite different with the paired appendages extending laterally over the orbits flat and wide forming an eye-shade, while the third spectacular posterior appendage was about 20 cm (7.9 in) long. Another species of Triceromeryx, T. conquensis found in La Retama in Spain, showed an even more spectacular appendage — instead of a Y-shaped structure its posterior appendage was T-shaped with the lateral branches expanding toward the front. In primitive members of the group (e.g. Ampelomeryx), this appendage was a posterior expansion of the occipital bone lying close to the powerful muscles supporting the skull in a normal position, thus suggesting that this appendage were actually used for fighting between males during the breeding season. The reduced shapes of the flat and laterally oriented appendages of later species suggests these were not used in active fighting, instead forming a function of passive display. The limbs were more similar to those of modern large bovids (e.g. Buffaloes) than to those of okapis. They probably lived in boggy forests, living on soft leaves and aquatic plants (as hinted to by the brachydont teeth similar to those of primitive Giraffids).

Genera[]

 Amphitragulus

Dromomerycinae

 Asiagenes
Aletomerycini
 Sinclairomeryx
 Aletomeryx
  A. gracilis
  A. marslandensis
  A. occidentalis
Dromomerycini
 Drepanomeryx
 Rakomeryx
 Dromomeryx
 Subdromomeryx
Cranioceratini
 Barbouromeryx
 Bouromeryx
 Procranioceras
  P. skinneri
 Cranioceras
  C. unicornis 
  C. clarendonensis
  C. pawniensis
  C. teres 
 Pediomeryx
  P. figginsi
  P. hamiltoni
  P. hemphillensis
  P. ruminalis
 Yumaceras

Palaeomerycinae

 Palaeomeryx
 Ampelomeryx
 Triceromeryx

Gallery[]

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