Fossil Oreodont Curled in Fetal Position
"An Icon of Oligocene North America"

Merycoidodon Oreodont

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

Geological Time: Oligocene – (35 million years ago)

Size: The skull is 220 mm in length by 160 mm in height by 70 mm wide (8 ¾” x 6” x 2 ¾”) Complete piece is 310 mm in length by 230 mm in height by 180 mm in width (12 ¼” x 9” x 7”)

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

Fossil Code: PFV128

Price: $2000.00 - Sold

Merycoidodon Fossil OreodontDescription: 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. In many ways, Oreodonta is an icon of Oligocene North America.

Merycoidodon was an oreodont, (meaning "mountain tooth") and were hoofed herbivorous (plant-eating) mammals. Merycoidodon was a Oreodontquadrupedal ruminant closely related to camels, pigs, and sheep. The skull was elongated and the upper canines were chisel shaped; the cheek teeth were used for grinding. It could reach a length of 4.5 ft long. It was a member of the Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates). Suborder Tylopoda (padded feet - oreodonts, camels), Family Merycoidodontidae, Genus Merycoidodon, the type species is Merycoidodon culbertsonii (Leidy, 1848).

Oligocene OreodontWe will never know the story of this oreodont’s final time before passing, to eventually be fossilized in the Brule formation. But, curled in the fetal position, there is a certain placid and compelling nature to this fossil. Was it caught in the open with no cover in an ash fall event, or, in a winter blizzard? The preparator seemed to have summed it up best with his remark that it “appears to be kissing its butt goodbye”! This is an excellently preserved skull and partial skeleton. It is large with well preserved teeth and bone. Note the full vertebral column, pelvis, various leg bones and ribs, exposed on both the front and rear sides. It has had less than 10% restoration.

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