Outstanding Large Merycoidodon Oreodont Skull

Merycoidodon culbertsoni

Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla, Suborder Oreodonta, Family Merycoidodontidae, Subfamily Oreodontinae

Geological Time: Oligocene – (35 million years ago)

Size: The skull is about 200 mm x 130 mm x 120 mm (8" x 5" x 4 1/2")

Fossil Site: Upper Brule Formation, White River Badlands, Chadron Nebraska Area

Merycoidodon Oreodont SkullDescription: The badlands of the western US are particularly rich in mammal fossils from the late Eocene to Miocene. The Brule Formation is exposed over a huge area including Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado, and yields abundant fossils as layers are eroded. This diverse group of stocky prehistoric mammals grazed amid the grasslands, prairies or savannas of North and Central America throughout much of the Cenozoic era.

Oreodonta is an extinct mammal distantly related to pigs, hogs, camels, hippopotamuses, and the pig-like peccaries. Over 50 species of Oreodonta have been described. They first appeared some 50 million years ago during the warm Eocene and were widely prevalent during the Oligocene in the grasslands, prairies or savannas of what is now the North American badlands. The Oreodonts mysteriously disappeared some four million years ago during the Merycoidodon Oreodont TeethPliocene. Today, fossil jaws and teeth of the Oreodonta are commonly found in the White River badlands in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Oreodonts have a unique place in the evolution of ruminant teeth and with peccary-like attributes. Oreodonts are Artiodactyls, even toed ungulates, sometimes called a cross between a pig and a sheep. Note that they have both large canine front teeth, but also molars for chewing plants. They were herding animals and grazers, eating mostly grasses. They averaged three to four feet long.

This is an excellently preserved skull. It is unusually large with well preserved teeth and bone, with little or no restoration.

click fossil pictures to enlarge

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