You might be saying, WTF guys, way to not start out strong, what is this animal that looks vaguely like the word macaroni? Well, that's actually a pretty good comparison: this is an animal that had a body sort of like a llama (hence the "chenia" in the name, which is a reference to the old genus name for that group), with a face very much like a macaroni noodle. Observe:
Macrauchenia had to be unique, its own special flower, and belong to a group of organisms known as the Litopterna. Never heard of them? Yeah, it's because they're dead. Litopterna is an extinct order of fossil mammal ungulates from South America that lived during the Tertiary period. Macrauchenia represents the youngest known genus of litopterns and was the only one to survive the Great American Interchange before dying out at the end of the Pleistocene. The first specimen of Macrauchenia was discovered by none other than Charles Darwin on that little cruise he took on the Beagle.
But back to that beautiful proboscis. How do we know (or hypothesize, at least) that they had a trunk, let alone that dashing, sleepy-eyed expression? It's all about the bones, guys.
|Saiga: the antelope that nobody has heard of|
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