Order Artiodactyla, Suborder Oreodonta, Family Merycoidodontidae, Subfamily
Time: Upper Oligocene
mm tall, 70 mm wide, 85 mm in length
Site: White River (Brule) Formation, South Dakota
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.