Palaeotherium (Greek for "ancient beast"); pronounced PAH-lay-oh-THEE-ree-um
Woodlands of Western Europe
Eocene-Early Oligocene (50-30 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 4 feet long and a few hundred pounds
Long head; possible prehensile trunk
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.