Cetartiodactyl Fossils: Bison, Whales, Giraffes & kin | Darwin and Wallace: A Nature & Fossil Store

Cetartiodactyl Fossils: Bison, Whales, Giraffes & kin


      Cetartiodactyls (meaning “Cetaceans and Even Finger/Toe”) are a clade of Ungulates (or hoofed mammals) whose feet possess an even amount of toes in contrast to their close relatives, the odd-toed perissodactyls. The name also refers to the inclusion of Cetaceans (whales) within the group, as genetic evidence has shown that whales, despite no longer possessing toes, did indeed evolve within the group before making their complete transition from the land to the sea. The Cetartiodactyls include all camels, llamas, pigs, peccaries, chevrotains, deer, musk deer, pronghorns, antelopes, sheep, goats, cattle, giraffes, hippos, and whales. The first Cetartiodactyls arose from a primitive ancestor during the Eocene epoch, approximately 55-54 million years ago. They would remain fairly obscure in the presence of the plentiful perissodactyls, until the oncoming spread of grasses took place around 23 million years ago during the Miocene epoch. Grasses are harder for the simple stomachs of perissodactyls to digest, but the complex multi-chambered stomachs of most Cetartiodactyls are capable of digesting vegetation with low nutritional value. This instance placed the Cetartiodactyls as the dominant hoofed mammals, and resulted in numerous extinctions of many perissodactyls. Today they are widespread on every continent except for Antarctica (they were introduced by humans into Australia), and are also the dominant mammals of the oceans.

Click on the images below to see the incredible fossils we offer in our Cetartiodactyl selection:

 BOVIDS: Bison, Antelopes, Cattle & kin

CETACEANS: Whales & Dolphins