Platygonus; pronounced PLATT-ee-GO-nuss
Plains of North America
Late Miocene-Modern (10 million-10,000 years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 3 feet long and 100 pounds
Long legs; pig-like snout
Peccaries are vicious, omnivorous, pig-like herd animals that live mostly in South and Central America; Platygonus was one of their oldest ancestors, a relatively long-legged member of the breed that may occasionally have ventured beyond the forests of its North American habitat and onto the open plains. Unlike modern peccaries, Platygonus seems to have been a strict herbivore, using its dangerous-looking tusks only to intimidate predators or other members of the herd (and possibly to help it dig up tasty vegetables). This megafauna mammal also had an unusually advanced digestive system similar to that of ruminants (i.e., cows, goats and sheep).