Perissodactyl Fossils: Rhinos, Horses & Tapirs | Darwin and Wallace: A Nature & Fossil Store

Perissodactyl Fossils: Rhinos, Horses & Tapirs

           

            Perissodactyls (meaning “Uneven Finger/Toe”) are one of two orders of herbivorous mammals that comprise the Ungulates, or “Hoofed” mammals (the other order being the Cetartiodactyls). The word “perissodactyl” refers to the odd number of toes that are represented on their hind feet, of which the middle toe bears the majority of the animal’s weight. Perissodactyls are comprised of Equids (horses and relatives), Rhinocerotids (rhinos), and Tapirids (tapirs), as well as other extinct varieties. The origin of the perissodactyls takes place approximately 55 million years ago along the transition from the Paleocene epoch to the Eocene epoch. Though perissodactyls prospered during the Oligocene epoch that followed, the diversity and spread of grasses in the oncoming Miocene epoch (approximately 23 million years ago) would cause extinction in many species, as their comparatively simpler stomachs could not process the low-nutritional value of grass as well as the multi-chambered stomachs of the Cetartiodactyls could. The surviving perissodactyls would adapt to these new conditions and continue to survive on into the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs, although the spread of humans and continual changes in environment would deal more blows to their survival (especially in North America, where they became completely extinct).

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

Equids: Horses

Tapirids: Tapirs