Poebrotherium (Greek for "grass-eating beast"); pronounced POE-ee-bro-THEE-ree-um
Plains of North America
Oligocene (33-23 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 3 feet tall and 75-100 pounds
Small size; llama-like head
It's a little-known fact that the first camels evolved in North America--and that these pioneering ruminants (i.e., cud-chewing mammals) only later spread to northern Africa and the Middle East, where most modern camels are found today. Named in the middle 19th century by the famous paleontologist Joseph Leidy, Poebrotherium is one of the earliest camels yet identified in the fossil record, a long-legged, sheep-sized herbivore with a distinctly llama-like head. At this stage in camel evolution, about 35 to 25 million years ago, characteristic features like fatty humps and knobby legs had yet to appear; in fact, if you didn't know Poebrotherium was a camel, you might assume this megafauna mammal was a prehistoric deer.