1 Tahrcountry Musings: Interesting facts about ancestor of Elephants unearthed

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Interesting facts about ancestor of Elephants unearthed

Analysis of chemical signatures preserved in fossil teeth of ancient ancestor of the elephants, which lived 37 million years ago, has come up with interesting findings. These ancestors lived in water and had a lifestyle similar to a hippo but had the appearance of a Tapir. The animals were related to seagoing manatees and dugongs. Study of fossil teeth has indicated that the animal grazed on plants in rivers and swamps.

Experts from Oxford University and Stony Brook University, New York did the analysis. The scientists were investigating the lifestyle of the two early elephants called proboscideans – Moeritherium and Barytherium, which looked like a slender version of today's Asian elephant, when they came up with new findings. These animals lived over 37 million years ago in Egypt's Fayum Desert. At the time sub-tropical rainforest and swamps covered the deserts of northern Egypt.

Full report is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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