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Phenacodus

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phenacodus

Phenacodus (Heinrich Harder)

Name:

Phenacodus (Greek for "obvious teeth"); pronounced fee-NACK-oh-duss

Habitat:

Plains of North America

Historical Epoch:

Early-Middle Eocene (55-45 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and 50-75 pounds

Diet:

Grass

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, straight legs; long tail; narrow snout

About Phenacodus:

Phenacodus was one of the "plain vanilla" mammals of the early Eocene epoch, a medium-sized, vaguely deer- or horse-like herbivore that evolved a mere 10 million years after the dinosaurs had gone extinct. Its importance lies in the fact that it seems to have occupied the root of the ungulate family tree; Phenaocodus (or a close relative) may have been the hoofed mammal from which later perissodactyls (odd-toed ungulates) and artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates) both evolved. This creature's name, Greek for "obvious teeth," derives from its, well, obvious teeth, which were well-suited to grinding up the tough vegetation of its North American habitat.
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