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Hyracodon

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hyracodon

Hyracodon (Heinrich Harder)

Name:

Hyracodon (Greek for "hyrax tooth"); pronounced hi-RACK-oh-don

Habitat:

Woodlands of North America

Historical Epoch:

Middle Oligocene (30-25 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet:

Plants

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Horse-like build; three-toed feet; large head

About Hyracodon:

Although Hyracodon looked a lot like a prehistoric horse--which were thick on the ground in Oligocene North America--an analysis of this creature's legs shows that it wasn't a particularly fast runner, and therefore probably spent most of its time in sheltered woodlands rather than open plains (where it would have been more susceptible to predation). In fact, Hyracodon is now believed to have been the earliest megafauna mammal on the evolutionary line leading to modern-day rhinoceroses (a journey that included some truly enormous intermediate forms, such as the 15-ton Indricotherium).
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