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Palaeotherium (Josef Smit)


Palaeotherium (Greek for "ancient beast"); pronounced PAH-lay-oh-THEE-ree-um


Woodlands of Western Europe

Historical Epoch:

Eocene-Early Oligocene (50-30 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 4 feet long and a few hundred pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long head; possible prehensile trunk

About Palaeotherium:

Not all the ungulates of the Eocene and Oligocene epochs were directly ancestral to modern horses. A good example is Palaeotherium, which, even though it was related to genuine prehistoric horses like Hyracotherium (once known as Eohippus), had some distinctly tapir-like characteristics, possibly including a short, prehensile trunk on the end of its snout. Most species of Palaeotherium seem to have been fairly small, but at least one (bearing the appropriate species name "magnum") attained horse-like proportions.
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