|Illustration of Deinotherium|
Deinotherium was a large proboscidean related to modern elephants. Their downward curving tusks are notable. They are known from the middle Miocene to the early Pleistocene. Dinotherium is put in its own family (the Deinotheriidae) in the Proboscidea.
The way Deinotherium used its curious tusks has been much debated. It may have rooted in soil for underground plant parts like roots and tubers, pulled down branches to snap them and reach leaves, or stripped soft bark from tree trunks.
It helps to remember that the Miocene was much warner and wetter than today, and that the Africa of the Miocene had rather different fauna from today. Deinotherium was a creature of muddy tropical rivers and forests, not the dry savannahs of today. It also lived in southern Europe and east to the Indian Subcontinent.
Deinotherium fossils have been uncovered at several of the African sites where remains of prehistoric hominid relatives of modern humans have also been found.
References[change | change source]
- Harris, J.M. 1976. Evolution of feeding mechanisms in the family Deinotheriidae (Mammalia: Proboscidea). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 331-362