Oligocene Leptauchenia Fossil Oreodont Skull from Badlands

Leptauchenia nitida (Oreodont)

Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla, Suborder Oreodonta, Family Merycoidodontidae, Subfamily Leptaucheniinae

Geological Time: Upper Oligocene

Size: 65 mm tall, 70 mm wide, 85 mm in length

Fossil Site: White River (Brule) Formation, South Dakota

Description: This is a fine example of a member of the Oreodontidae from the White River Formation deposits of South Dakota, known as Leptauchenia nitida. The Oredonts are an exclusively North American assemblage that became extinct during the Pliocene. They hold a position intermediate between the Ruminants and the suidine Pachyderms. Indeed, the 19th Century paleontologist Joesph Leidy referred to them as “ruminants hogs”. Notice the distinctive canine teeth, well preserved in this specimen, giving the jaws a somewhat wolf like appearance. While some features suggest an aquatic habit, such as the high-placed eyes and nostrils, the clawed toes are more indicative of a more terrestrial habit. The skull is remarkably well preserved, with all its teeth intact.

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