History UsefulNotes / PrehistoricLIfeMammals

12th May '17 7:03:33 PM chasemaddigan
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Programs from the 2000s like ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' and the ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' film series tried to partially avert the trope, but even these shows didn't escape the EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs fate: not only the well-known case of "Dawn of Dinosaurs". Though it's little-known, Walking With was initially intended to show ''prehistoric mammals'', but producers received money "only for a show about dinosaurs" - only after the dinosaurs' success they could start with ''Beasts'', changed to a simple sequel at that point.

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Programs from the 2000s like ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' and the ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' film series tried to partially avert the trope, but even these shows didn't escape the EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs fate: not only the well-known case of "Dawn of Dinosaurs". Though it's little-known, Walking With was initially intended to show ''prehistoric mammals'', but producers received money "only for a show about dinosaurs" - only after the dinosaurs' success they could start with ''Beasts'', changed to a simple sequel at that point.



* Prehistoric marsupials were not the only oversized mammals in ancient Australia: monotremes, too, were amazing. Modern monotremes are the most archaic extant mammals, and are well-known because they have preserved the original habit to produce eggs instead of alive newborns. Their extinct relatives are poorly-known in fossil record, and were not different than the modern ones (platypus and echidna). However, one member of the echidna group reached the size of a sheep: ''Zaglossus hartmanni'', closely related with modern long-beaked echidnas. It's weird that the astounding fauna which lived once in Australia was totally missed by the [[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]] producers. With giant koalaroos, giant rhinowombats, rat-toothed uberlions, and giant ancestor of [[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog Knuckles]] available (not to mention UpToEleven Komodo dragons and giant running birds)… it's unfortunate that such an episode never materialized.

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* Prehistoric marsupials were not the only oversized mammals in ancient Australia: monotremes, too, were amazing. Modern monotremes are the most archaic extant mammals, and are well-known because they have preserved the original habit to produce eggs instead of alive newborns. Their extinct relatives are poorly-known in fossil record, and were not different than the modern ones (platypus and echidna). However, one member of the echidna group reached the size of a sheep: ''Zaglossus hartmanni'', closely related with modern long-beaked echidnas. It's weird that the astounding fauna which lived once in Australia was totally missed by the [[WalkingWithDinosaurs [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With]] producers. With giant koalaroos, giant rhinowombats, rat-toothed uberlions, and giant ancestor of [[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog Knuckles]] available (not to mention UpToEleven Komodo dragons and giant running birds)… it's unfortunate that such an episode never materialized.



* Before cats, bears, dogs and hyenas appeared on Earth, there were their pseudo-looking relatives, whose appearance was similar to their successors or a mix of these animals. Bear-dogs are more correctly called amphicyonids: some were very fox- or wolf-like, while others were more similar to bears. ''Amphicyon'' is the prototype of the group. A [[AllAnimalsAreDogs very dog-like]] "bear-dog" appears in [[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]. Nimravids (the pseudo-cats) were also very diversified: the aforementioned ''Eusmilus'' was indeed a sabretoothed member of the pseudo-cat family, while the namesake ''Nimravus'' was more similar to modern big cats. The latter has left a perforated skull which revealed an astonishing story; it was stabbed in its head... by another sabretooth. The skull wound was also partially healed, [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome meaning the ''Nimravus'' survived.]] Sadly, in some sources, nimravids are wrongly treated as [[TaxonomicTermConfusion actual cats]].

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* Before cats, bears, dogs and hyenas appeared on Earth, there were their pseudo-looking relatives, whose appearance was similar to their successors or a mix of these animals. Bear-dogs are more correctly called amphicyonids: some were very fox- or wolf-like, while others were more similar to bears. ''Amphicyon'' is the prototype of the group. A [[AllAnimalsAreDogs very dog-like]] "bear-dog" appears in [[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]].''Series/WalkingWithBeasts''. Nimravids (the pseudo-cats) were also very diversified: the aforementioned ''Eusmilus'' was indeed a sabretoothed member of the pseudo-cat family, while the namesake ''Nimravus'' was more similar to modern big cats. The latter has left a perforated skull which revealed an astonishing story; it was stabbed in its head... by another sabretooth. The skull wound was also partially healed, [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome meaning the ''Nimravus'' survived.]] Sadly, in some sources, nimravids are wrongly treated as [[TaxonomicTermConfusion actual cats]].



* In the Early Cenozoic, at the time "true" carnivorans were still weasel-like, creodonts occupied the ecological niche ruled by modern large carnivorans. Very diversified in shape and size, their appearance included that of all modern carnivorans (hyena-like, dog-like, bear-like, weasel-like, tiger-like, or a mix of all these). However, creodonts were more primitive and arguably slower-moving than our meat-eating mammals: this has been often cited as the cause of their extinction, but scientists aren't sure of that. ''Hyaenodon'' is regarded as the stock creodont. There were several species, from dog-sized to cow-sized: the largest hyaenodont species appears in Walking With as a formidable predator, but some hypothesise it was mostly a scavenger. But even bigger creodonts are known to science (for example ''Megistotherium''), some of them could have even been the biggest land meat-eating mammals ever, rivalling the alleged "biggest carnivore" ''Andrewsarchus'' (see later).

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* In the Early Cenozoic, at the time "true" carnivorans were still weasel-like, creodonts occupied the ecological niche ruled by modern large carnivorans. Very diversified in shape and size, their appearance included that of all modern carnivorans (hyena-like, dog-like, bear-like, weasel-like, tiger-like, or a mix of all these). However, creodonts were more primitive and arguably slower-moving than our meat-eating mammals: this has been often cited as the cause of their extinction, but scientists aren't sure of that. ''Hyaenodon'' is regarded as the stock creodont. There were several species, from dog-sized to cow-sized: the largest hyaenodont species appears in Walking With ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' as a formidable predator, but some hypothesise it was mostly a scavenger. But even bigger creodonts are known to science (for example ''Megistotherium''), some of them could have even been the biggest land meat-eating mammals ever, rivalling the alleged "biggest carnivore" ''Andrewsarchus'' (see later).



* Chalicotheres are the best example of MixAndMatchCritter among prehistoric mammals. They had the head of an horse, the body-shape of a gorilla, and sloth-like forelimbs with hooked claws for pulling down branches or excavating the soil in search of roots: some nickname them [[MixAndMatchCritter sloth-horses]]. A very successful group of hoofed mammals, distantly related to horses and rhinos (like the aforementioned brontotheres); chalicotheres roamed for a long time in most continents, and some [[WildMassGuessing think]] the famous "Nandi Bear" that could live in modern African rainforests is just a surviving chalicothere. The two most well-known family-members are the North American ''Moropus'' and the Asian namesake ''Chalicotherium'' - the latter was even stranger since literally ''knuckle-walked'' like a gorilla. The latter was portrayed in [[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]], along with another species, african ''Ancylotherium'' - maybe the last chalicothere, unless the Nandi Bear....

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* Chalicotheres are the best example of MixAndMatchCritter among prehistoric mammals. They had the head of an horse, the body-shape of a gorilla, and sloth-like forelimbs with hooked claws for pulling down branches or excavating the soil in search of roots: some nickname them [[MixAndMatchCritter sloth-horses]]. A very successful group of hoofed mammals, distantly related to horses and rhinos (like the aforementioned brontotheres); chalicotheres roamed for a long time in most continents, and some [[WildMassGuessing think]] the famous "Nandi Bear" that could live in modern African rainforests is just a surviving chalicothere. The two most well-known family-members are the North American ''Moropus'' and the Asian namesake ''Chalicotherium'' - the latter was even stranger since literally ''knuckle-walked'' like a gorilla. The latter was portrayed in [[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]], ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'', along with another species, african ''Ancylotherium'' - maybe the last chalicothere, unless the Nandi Bear....



* Many hoofed mammals of the distant past were pig-like in shape: indeed, the pig frame was the most primitive among "ungulates", still retained by some modern hoofed mammals, the best example being boars and peccaries (which are artiodactyls) and also the tapir (which is a perissodactyl). Among extinct true boars, ''Metridiochoerus'' was related with the modern warthog but with straighter tusks. Among prehistoric pseudo-boars most were small (ex. ''Anoplotherium'' and the oreodontids), but some were not: entelodonts are the most striking ones. They were bison-sized at the most, and had several bony knobs on their head and jaws, resembling giant warthogs, but their tusks were much smaller than a warthog's or a babirusa's, and didn't protrude out of the mouth. Their food habits are still unclear: they might be scavengers that drove away small predators from their kill, but also ate vegetation and might even be active hunters sometimes. North American ''Daeodon'' (also called ''Dinohyus'') is the largest and one of the most depicted entelodont. [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]] has shown an unnamed Asian relative, and affected its appearance [[CarnivoreConfusion to make it scarier]], exaggerating the opening of its mouth.

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* Many hoofed mammals of the distant past were pig-like in shape: indeed, the pig frame was the most primitive among "ungulates", still retained by some modern hoofed mammals, the best example being boars and peccaries (which are artiodactyls) and also the tapir (which is a perissodactyl). Among extinct true boars, ''Metridiochoerus'' was related with the modern warthog but with straighter tusks. Among prehistoric pseudo-boars most were small (ex. ''Anoplotherium'' and the oreodontids), but some were not: entelodonts are the most striking ones. They were bison-sized at the most, and had several bony knobs on their head and jaws, resembling giant warthogs, but their tusks were much smaller than a warthog's or a babirusa's, and didn't protrude out of the mouth. Their food habits are still unclear: they might be scavengers that drove away small predators from their kill, but also ate vegetation and might even be active hunters sometimes. North American ''Daeodon'' (also called ''Dinohyus'') is the largest and one of the most depicted entelodont. [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]] ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' has shown an unnamed Asian relative, and affected its appearance [[CarnivoreConfusion to make it scarier]], exaggerating the opening of its mouth.



* ''All'' mammals were small and rodent-shaped in their evolutionary beginnings. Some became larger and more derived after the extinction of the dinosaurs, but none to the same level as whales. The first whale ancestors appeared only 10 million years or so after the non-avian dinosaurs' extinction. Once thought to have descended from dog-like mesonychids (see above), whales [[ScienceMarchesOn are now thought to be]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even-toed_ungulate artiodactyls]] (even-toed ungulates), aka the group including camels, pigs, cattle, deer, and hippos (their closest relative). The first whales may have descended from the aforementioned anthracotheres, or possibly ''Indohyus'' ("Indian pig"). They probably spent much of their time on land, feeding on dead fish and drowned animals. ''Ambulocetus'' (the "walking whale") is a good example of this: still four-limbed, it was already a good swimmer, but still resembled anything but a whale. ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' showed it as an ambush-hunter of small land mammals, like a modern Nile Crocodile; actually its lifestyle is unknown. Maybe ''Ambulocetus'' was a specialist fish-hunter like modern otters.

to:

* ''All'' mammals were small and rodent-shaped in their evolutionary beginnings. Some became larger and more derived after the extinction of the dinosaurs, but none to the same level as whales. The first whale ancestors appeared only 10 million years or so after the non-avian dinosaurs' extinction. Once thought to have descended from dog-like mesonychids (see above), whales [[ScienceMarchesOn are now thought to be]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even-toed_ungulate artiodactyls]] (even-toed ungulates), aka the group including camels, pigs, cattle, deer, and hippos (their closest relative). The first whales may have descended from the aforementioned anthracotheres, or possibly ''Indohyus'' ("Indian pig"). They probably spent much of their time on land, feeding on dead fish and drowned animals. ''Ambulocetus'' (the "walking whale") is a good example of this: still four-limbed, it was already a good swimmer, but still resembled anything but a whale. ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' showed it as an ambush-hunter of small land mammals, like a modern Nile Crocodile; actually its lifestyle is unknown. Maybe ''Ambulocetus'' was a specialist fish-hunter like modern otters.



* Traditionally we have put in the “insectivores” group all those mammals whose anatomy is comparable to that of most Mesozoic mammals: small size, generic mouse-like look and non-specialized teeth. Actually modern insectivores are very different among each other; while the most commonly known (hedgehogs, moles, shrews) ''are'' closely related, many other less familiar “insectivores” (tupays, tenrecs, sengis) are not. Their resemblance is just due to the fact they still preserve a body-plan similar to the most common one in the Mesozoic, while non-insectivoran mammals modified it becoming more recognizable. Several "insectivores" are known from the Cenozoic's fossil record, but they, being usually small, are rather uncommon like rodents. Maybe the most famous and specialized is ''Leptictidium'', a hopping animal similar to a 3 ft long kangaroo with shrew-like teeth and (maybe) a shrew-like mobile nose. Not related with any modern mammal, ''Leptictidium'' appears the main character in the first [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]] episode, and was also the inspiration for Scrat in the WesternAnimation/IceAge films. [[note]]As it is, however, Scrat actually bears a close resemblance to the Mesozoic mammal ''Cronopio'', although this was pure coincidence.[[/note]] More shrew-like, ''Zalambdalestes'' lived before the non-avian dinosaurs’ extinction—Late Cretaceous, along with guys like ''[[StockDinosaurs Velociraptor, Oviraptor,]]'' and ''[[StockDinosaurs Protoceratops]]''. Traditionally believed an “insectivore”, recent research seem suggest it was close to the ancestors of live-bearing mammals.

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* Traditionally we have put in the “insectivores” group all those mammals whose anatomy is comparable to that of most Mesozoic mammals: small size, generic mouse-like look and non-specialized teeth. Actually modern insectivores are very different among each other; while the most commonly known (hedgehogs, moles, shrews) ''are'' closely related, many other less familiar “insectivores” (tupays, tenrecs, sengis) are not. Their resemblance is just due to the fact they still preserve a body-plan similar to the most common one in the Mesozoic, while non-insectivoran mammals modified it becoming more recognizable. Several "insectivores" are known from the Cenozoic's fossil record, but they, being usually small, are rather uncommon like rodents. Maybe the most famous and specialized is ''Leptictidium'', a hopping animal similar to a 3 ft long kangaroo with shrew-like teeth and (maybe) a shrew-like mobile nose. Not related with any modern mammal, ''Leptictidium'' appears the main character in the first [[Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]] ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' episode, and was also the inspiration for Scrat in the WesternAnimation/IceAge films. [[note]]As it is, however, Scrat actually bears a close resemblance to the Mesozoic mammal ''Cronopio'', although this was pure coincidence.[[/note]] More shrew-like, ''Zalambdalestes'' lived before the non-avian dinosaurs’ extinction—Late Cretaceous, along with guys like ''[[StockDinosaurs Velociraptor, Oviraptor,]]'' and ''[[StockDinosaurs Protoceratops]]''. Traditionally believed an “insectivore”, recent research seem suggest it was close to the ancestors of live-bearing mammals.



* During mammal evolution, some groups reached the ability to glide. The most known extinct glider is perhaps ''Planetetherium'', belonging to the same group of the so-called “flying lemur” of our days. But no other mammalian group managed to fly actively like bats. Unfortunately, bats are a very poorly-known group in the fossil record because their skeleton is way too fragile to fossilize well. Despite this, awesomely well-preserved bat remains have been discovered in the most famous fossil deposit from Early Cenozoic: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messel_pit Messel Pit]], in Germany. This deposit has also many, many other early mammals: among them, the aforementioned hopping bug-eater ''Leptictidium'' and the basal ungulate ''Propalaeotherium'' have been recently made famous by Walking With (even though the propalaeothere ''wasn't'' an early "horse" as said in the program). These and other mammals from this deposit are so well preserved that ''even their fur and stomach contents are known''. In short, we know'em almost like they were still-living animals. The very first bats have been discovered here, and show us all the traits associated with their modern relatives: fingered wings, large ears, and even structure for echolocating are known from these finds. This has lead scientists to make an intriguing hypothesis: perhaps some sort of gliding proto-bats were already living on Earth ''before'' pterosaurs and non-avian dinosaurs disappeared? This would also mean bat-winged critters ''did'' exist at the Age of Dinosaurs, thus making the "Mesozoic bat-winged fliers" trope partially TruthInTelevision (see also ''Yi'' in "Birdlike Dinosaurs").

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* During mammal evolution, some groups reached the ability to glide. The most known extinct glider is perhaps ''Planetetherium'', belonging to the same group of the so-called “flying lemur” of our days. But no other mammalian group managed to fly actively like bats. Unfortunately, bats are a very poorly-known group in the fossil record because their skeleton is way too fragile to fossilize well. Despite this, awesomely well-preserved bat remains have been discovered in the most famous fossil deposit from Early Cenozoic: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messel_pit Messel Pit]], in Germany. This deposit has also many, many other early mammals: among them, the aforementioned hopping bug-eater ''Leptictidium'' and the basal ungulate ''Propalaeotherium'' have been recently made famous by Walking With ''Series/WalkingWithBeasts'' (even though the propalaeothere ''wasn't'' an early "horse" as said in the program). These and other mammals from this deposit are so well preserved that ''even their fur and stomach contents are known''. In short, we know'em almost like they were still-living animals. The very first bats have been discovered here, and show us all the traits associated with their modern relatives: fingered wings, large ears, and even structure for echolocating are known from these finds. This has lead scientists to make an intriguing hypothesis: perhaps some sort of gliding proto-bats were already living on Earth ''before'' pterosaurs and non-avian dinosaurs disappeared? This would also mean bat-winged critters ''did'' exist at the Age of Dinosaurs, thus making the "Mesozoic bat-winged fliers" trope partially TruthInTelevision (see also ''Yi'' in "Birdlike Dinosaurs").
19th Feb '17 11:12:09 AM MasterofGalaxies4628
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* A 2008 discovery made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is believed to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. That said, they likely had a wide and varied appetite, as sperm whales do today. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' is known to have occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, at the time of writing it's mostly speculation. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.

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* A 2008 discovery made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws.jaws (think [[Disney/{{Pinocchio}} Monstro]], but smaller). And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is believed to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. That said, they likely had a wide and varied appetite, as sperm whales do today. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' is known to have occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, at the time of writing it's mostly speculation. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.
8th Jan '17 1:40:17 PM Spinosegnosaurus77
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* ''All'' mammals were small and rodent-shaped in their evolutionary beginnings. Some became larger and more derived after the extinction of the dinosaurs, but none to the same level as whales. The first whale ancestors appeared only 10 million years or so after the non-avian dinosaurs' extinction. Once thought to have descended from dog-like mesonychids (see above), whales [[ScienceMarchesOn are now thought to be]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even-toed_ungulate artiodactyls]] (even-toed ungulates), aka the group including camels, pigs, cattle, deer, and hippos (their closest relative). The first whales may have descended from the aforementioned anthracotheres, or possibly ''Indohyus'' ("Indian pig"), which was only discovered in 2007. They probably spent much of their time on land, feeding on dead fish and drowned animals. ''Ambulocetus'' (the "walking whale") is a good example of this: still four-limbed, it was already a good swimmer, but still resembled anything but a whale. ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' showed it as an ambush-hunter of small land mammals, like a modern Nile Crocodile; actually its lifestyle is unknown. Maybe ''Ambulocetus'' was a specialist fish-hunter like modern otters.

to:

* ''All'' mammals were small and rodent-shaped in their evolutionary beginnings. Some became larger and more derived after the extinction of the dinosaurs, but none to the same level as whales. The first whale ancestors appeared only 10 million years or so after the non-avian dinosaurs' extinction. Once thought to have descended from dog-like mesonychids (see above), whales [[ScienceMarchesOn are now thought to be]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even-toed_ungulate artiodactyls]] (even-toed ungulates), aka the group including camels, pigs, cattle, deer, and hippos (their closest relative). The first whales may have descended from the aforementioned anthracotheres, or possibly ''Indohyus'' ("Indian pig"), which was only discovered in 2007.pig"). They probably spent much of their time on land, feeding on dead fish and drowned animals. ''Ambulocetus'' (the "walking whale") is a good example of this: still four-limbed, it was already a good swimmer, but still resembled anything but a whale. ''[[WalkingWithDinosaurs Walking With Beasts]]'' showed it as an ambush-hunter of small land mammals, like a modern Nile Crocodile; actually its lifestyle is unknown. Maybe ''Ambulocetus'' was a specialist fish-hunter like modern otters.
8th Jan '17 1:37:24 PM Spinosegnosaurus77
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* The mesonychids were the first meat-eating mammals which obtained a size larger than a house cat. Rather dog-like or hyena-like in shape, they had hooves in their feet similar to modern pigs. Once, mesonychians were considered the ancestors of whales, because their skull (specifically their teeth and ear bones) resembles that of the most primitive cetacean known, ''Pakicetus''. We know now that the [[ScienceMarchesOn hippopotamus]] is the closest relative of whales and dolphins. The fossil record of prehistoric hippos is poorly known (we can mention ''Hippopotamus gorgops'', a close relative of the modern giant hippo but with extremely protruding, periscope-like eyes); on the other hand, the similar-looking Anthracotheres have a rich number of species described. They were probably the closest hippopotamus relatives, or even their ancestors. The main difference with hippos is their much smaller mouth; they probably didn't "yawn" like hippos do today.

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* The mesonychids were the first meat-eating mammals which obtained a size larger than a house cat. Rather dog-like or hyena-like in shape, they had hooves in their feet similar to modern pigs. Once, mesonychians were considered the ancestors of whales, because their skull (specifically their teeth and ear bones) resembles that of the most primitive cetacean known, ''Pakicetus''. We know now that the [[ScienceMarchesOn hippopotamus]] is the closest relative of whales and dolphins. The fossil record of prehistoric hippos is poorly known (we can mention ''Hippopotamus gorgops'', a close relative of the modern giant hippo but with extremely protruding, periscope-like eyes); eyes, as well as ''Kenyapotamus'', which was once considered a "missing link" between hippos and peccaries); on the other hand, the similar-looking Anthracotheres have a rich number of species described. They were probably the closest hippopotamus relatives, or even their ancestors. The main difference with hippos is their much smaller mouth; they probably didn't "yawn" like hippos do today.
30th Oct '16 6:09:44 PM MagnusForce
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* Among the first fish-shaped cetaceans, ''Basilosaurus'' reached the length of a modern baleen whale, but was much more slender, sometimes mentioned "[[UpToEleven eel-like]]" (by the way, it was still a whale!). When first discovered, its elongated shape was misidentified for a mosasaur-like marine reptile: hence its strange, reptile-sounding name ("king lizard"). At that time, all whales still were active hunters, like modern orcas and sperm whales, but still with differentiated teeth: pointed the anterior ones, serrated the posterior, an old legacy which betrays their origins from land mammals. The first filter feeders appeared much more recently, when our planet turned colder and immense shoals of krill began to float in polar waters. Other cetaceans, however, remained small and active predators, originating our dolphins. See also [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cetaceans here]] to learn more about this fascinating story.

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* Among the first fish-shaped cetaceans, ''Basilosaurus'' reached the length of a modern baleen whale, but was much more slender, sometimes mentioned "[[UpToEleven eel-like]]" (by the way, it was still a whale!). When first discovered, its elongated shape was misidentified for a mosasaur-like marine reptile: hence its strange, reptile-sounding name ("king lizard").lizard"); there was an attempt to rename it ''Zeuglodon'' to fix the error, but nomenclature rules prevented that. At that time, all whales still were active hunters, like modern orcas and sperm whales, but still with differentiated teeth: pointed the anterior ones, serrated the posterior, an old legacy which betrays their origins from land mammals. The first filter feeders appeared much more recently, when our planet turned colder and immense shoals of krill began to float in polar waters. Other cetaceans, however, remained small and active predators, originating our dolphins. See also [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cetaceans here]] to learn more about this fascinating story.



* Among those ancient dolphin-like cetaceans, some reached very unusual traits compared with the modern ones (even though our narwhal is not far away): ''Squalodon'' ("shark-toothed") had serrated teeth similar to a shark; ''Eurhinodelphis'' ("good-nosed dolphin") had a prominent upper jaw similar to a swordfish as well as the unrelated ichthyosaur ''Eurhinosaurus''. But the most astonishing is ''Odobenocetops'' the "walrus whale", with its two long tusks protruding backwards, and ''asymmetrical'' just like the modern single-tooth of the narwhal (in both case, the overgrown tooth is the left). The function of both the teeth of the odobenocetops and the tooth of the narwhal is still uncertain (maybe courtship device). Of course the ''Odobenocetops'' was the chosen cetacean in Sea Monsters as a prey of the giant shark "Megalodon", just because [[RuleOfCool it looks cool]].

to:

* Among those ancient dolphin-like cetaceans, some reached very unusual traits compared with the modern ones (even though our narwhal is not far away): ''Squalodon'' ("shark-toothed") had serrated teeth similar to a shark; ''Eurhinodelphis'' ("good-nosed dolphin") had a prominent upper jaw similar to a swordfish as well as the unrelated ichthyosaur ''Eurhinosaurus''. But the most astonishing is ''Odobenocetops'' the "walrus whale", with its two long tusks protruding backwards, and ''asymmetrical'' just like the modern single-tooth of the narwhal (in both case, the overgrown tooth is the left). The function of both the teeth of the odobenocetops and the tooth of the narwhal is still uncertain (maybe courtship device). Of course the ''Odobenocetops'' was the chosen cetacean in Sea Monsters as a prey of the giant shark juvenile "Megalodon", just because [[RuleOfCool it looks cool]].
9th Oct '16 1:20:57 AM harryhenry
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* A recent discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is believed to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. That said, they likely had a wide and varied appetite, as sperm whales do today. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' is known to have occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, at the time of writing it's mostly speculation. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.

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* A recent 2008 discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is believed to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. That said, they likely had a wide and varied appetite, as sperm whales do today. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' is known to have occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, at the time of writing it's mostly speculation. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.
8th Oct '16 10:45:49 PM DustSnitch
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* Modern Australia also was home to an unique animal which has no close modern relatives, with its contemporary the koala, wombat and the Diprotodonts being its closest relative: ''Thylacoleo'', (“pouched lion”) nicknamed the “marsupial lion”, with its species name, ''carnifex'', meaning [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast "executioner"]]. It was so-called because its body shape, sharp claws, and short head remember modern big-cats; but unlike the latter, it had ''rodent-like incisors'' instead of the classic fangs, and guillotines instead of molars that it used to slice the neck of the prey to kill it instantly. Scientists once thought it was indeed vegetarian like a rodent; they now know it was predatory. Not only that, it could have been the most efficient mammalian predator ever. Despite being not bigger than a jaguar, some think it was able to kill [[BadAss even Diprotodonts and giant kangaroos!]] The combination of ''Velociraptor''-like claws and guillotines proved an awesomely efficient killing arsenal. If not for the fact there were two larger, faster, equally well-armed reptilian predators-''Quinkana'', a terrestrial crocodile, and ''Megalania'', a giant lizard the size of a bison, it would have been the continent's unrivalled killer. All three predators, modern animals adapted to today's world, met an untimely end at the hands of humans, as they set fires to grow different plant species, which starved their prey to extinction. The same fate occurred to all species of marsupial wolves, the other main mammalian predators of prehistoric Australia other than the lion, whose only species survived in contemporary age (the famous "Tasmanian wolf" ''Thylacinus cynocephalus'', lit. "pouched dog with a dog-head"), has missed the chance to be observed by modern wildlife lovers only for a bunch of decades.

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* Modern Australia also was home to an unique animal which has no close modern relatives, with its contemporary the koala, wombat and the Diprotodonts being its closest relative: ''Thylacoleo'', (“pouched lion”) nicknamed the “marsupial lion”, with its species name, ''carnifex'', meaning [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast "executioner"]]. It was so-called because its body shape, sharp claws, and short head remember modern big-cats; but unlike the latter, it had ''rodent-like incisors'' instead of the classic fangs, and guillotines instead of molars that it used to slice the neck of the prey to kill it instantly. Scientists once thought it was indeed vegetarian like a rodent; they now know it was predatory. Not only that, it could have been the most efficient mammalian predator ever. Despite being not bigger than a jaguar, some think it was able to kill [[BadAss even Diprotodonts and giant kangaroos!]] kangaroos! The combination of ''Velociraptor''-like claws and guillotines proved an awesomely efficient killing arsenal. If not for the fact there were two larger, faster, equally well-armed reptilian predators-''Quinkana'', a terrestrial crocodile, and ''Megalania'', a giant lizard the size of a bison, it would have been the continent's unrivalled killer. All three predators, modern animals adapted to today's world, met an untimely end at the hands of humans, as they set fires to grow different plant species, which starved their prey to extinction. The same fate occurred to all species of marsupial wolves, the other main mammalian predators of prehistoric Australia other than the lion, whose only species survived in contemporary age (the famous "Tasmanian wolf" ''Thylacinus cynocephalus'', lit. "pouched dog with a dog-head"), has missed the chance to be observed by modern wildlife lovers only for a bunch of decades.
10th Sep '16 10:44:20 AM Wooboo
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* A recent discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is theorized to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales, though it is theorized that they had a wide and varied appetite. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, it's mostly speculation.

to:

* A recent discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is theorized believed to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales, though it is theorized that whales. That said, they likely had a wide and varied appetite.appetite, as sperm whales do today. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' is known to have occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, at the time of writing it's mostly speculation. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, it's mostly speculation.
10th Sep '16 10:39:28 AM Wooboo
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* A recent discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is theorized to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. It's also one of those prehistoric animals who's name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is named after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.

to:

* A recent discovery (2008) made in Peru, ''Livyatan melvillei'' possesses what may be the largest functional teeth of any animal (that is, not counting tusks). The size of the partially preserved skull indicates that ''Livyatan'' reached a length between 44-57 feet, possessing a head three meters long. It was quite similar to the modern sperm whale, only it had teeth in both of its jaws. And these teeth were ''massive'', at their largest growing to a little over a foot in length. It is theorized to be one of the area's apex predators, along with the giant shark ''C. megalodon'', who lived in the same area at the same time. It's also theorized that they may have had a similar taste in preferred prey too: baleen whales. It's whales, though it is theorized that they had a wide and varied appetite. It also happens to be one of those prehistoric animals who's whose name is a reference, too. "Livyatan" is the Hebrew name for the legendary Biblical sea monster Leviathan (note that the translation of the word "whale" in modern Hebrew is just "livyatan"), and "melvillei" is named coined after Herman Melville, the author of ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby-Dick]]''.Moby-Dick]]''. A tooth discovered Beaumaris Bay, Australia in 2016 seems to indicate that ''melvillei''--or a closely related species--may have had a wider habitat range than previously indicated, and existed in the area for another two million years after the time period in which the Peruvian population of ''melvillei'' occurred. However, as we only have one tooth to go on, it's mostly speculation.
23rd Jul '16 12:09:25 PM MrMediaGuy2
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* South America was isolated from other continents for most of the Mammal Age, and thus its fauna developed in its own direction. There were not only elephant-size sloths and tank-like glyptodonts: there were also less-armoured but still odd-looking "ungulates", not related with any modern animal today, but similar in shape/size to camels, horses, hippos, buffalos, elephants, rhinos, hyraxes, and even chalicotheres (a great example of convergent evolution). The two most represented are ''Macrauchenia'' and ''Toxodon''. ''Macrauchenia'' was a bit camel-like; often depicted with a floppy, elephantine nose because of the shape of its skull, but we don't know if it really had this thing. ''Toxodon'' was more like a stock-built, no-horned buffalo, but it has also been compared with a rhino or a hippo. These two guys lived during the Ice Ages in South American pampas, and were among the last members of their groups; but other relatives lived much earlier, always in South America.

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* South America was isolated from other continents for most of the Mammal Age, and thus its fauna developed in its own direction. There were not only elephant-size sloths and tank-like glyptodonts: there were also less-armoured but still odd-looking "ungulates", not related with any modern animal today, but similar in shape/size to camels, horses, hippos, buffalos, elephants, rhinos, hyraxes, and even chalicotheres (a great example of convergent evolution). The two most represented are ''Macrauchenia'' ''[[StockDinosaurs Macrauchenia]]'' and ''Toxodon''. ''Macrauchenia'' was a bit camel-like; often depicted with a floppy, elephantine nose because of the shape of its skull, but we don't know if it really had this thing. ''Toxodon'' was more like a stock-built, no-horned buffalo, but it has also been compared with a rhino or a hippo. These two guys lived during the Ice Ages in South American pampas, and were among the last members of their groups; but other relatives lived much earlier, always in South America.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=UsefulNotes.PrehistoricLIfeMammals