This article will tell you everything there is to know about the first giant mammals, known as pantodonts, that appeared 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct. The article covers their history, range, diet, behavior and much more.
The Coryphodon is an extinct genus of large mammals. It was a pantodont and was a member of the first group of large browsing mammals. Originally it lived in Asia and then migrated to Northern America during the Late Paleocene, and Early-Middle Eocene epochs of the Cenozoic era, about 50-63 million years ago, replacing an earlier pantodont called Barylambda. The first fossil was recovered from Wyoming, in North America. Several other specimens were also found in Europe, Mongolia, and China. The Coryphodon started the ecological space occupied by pigs, camels, cows, rhinos, elephants, and deers. So far, five genera have been grouped with the Coryphodon and about 35 species are under review to be assigned to this genus. Studies revealed that the Coryphodon was not a smart animal. The species had a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Its name is derived from Greek and translates to 'peaked tooth', referencing the angles of its ridges. This creature was incredibly slow as it had short limbs that supported its heavy body.
Read on to learn all about the Coryphodon. Learn about other pre-historic animals on our Hypohippus fact pages and Scelidotherium facts pages too.
No, it was not a dinosaur, Coryphodon was a pantodont. They appeared after the KT extinction event which wiped out most of the dinosaur species.
The word Coryphodon is pronounced as 'cor-e-foe-don'. It was named by Richard Owen in 1845 and its name means 'peaked tooth', it is also known as Lefalophodon, Loxolophodon, Metalophodon, Manteodon, Ectacodon, and Bathmodon.
Coryphodon (peaked tooth) was a pantodont from North America just like Barylambda.
It lived during the Late Paleocene -Early Eocene epochs of the Cenozoic Era, approximately 50-63 million years ago.
These mammals had a short reign and went extinct about 38-40 million years ago.
Coryphodon (peaked tooth) initially appeared in Asia in the Paleocene epoch, and then migrated to North America, which lead to the evolution of the aboriginal pantodont, Barylambda. It is not certain whether they were endemic to a certain location.
Fossils belonging to this mammal were recovered from Ellesmere Island in Greenland revealed that they lived near warm swamps, and trees, which lead scientists to speculate their habitat was similar to that of a modern hippopotamus i.e. marshes and swamps, however, they are not related to a modern hippo or any other animal in present time. The climate during the Eocene was warm, and several animals that occupied north of the Arctic Circle lived in hot summer days and complete darkness for several months. Studies conducted on this mammal not revealed information about its range and diet but also the behavior of the northern Arctic Circle populations.
Considered as the largest land-dwelling animals of their era, they lived in small groups on top of short trees or burrowing underground for shelter.
The lifespan of this animal is unknown.
They reproduced via sexual reproduction and were viviparous i.e. a female Coryphodon gave birth to young calves.
Coryphodon (peaked tooth) is considered to be the largest mammal from its era. It had long upper limbs and opposing lower limbs that that supported its hefty weight. Its skull had a significant sagittal or longitudinal crest and had strong muscles. In 1995 while studying the species paleontologists Gingerich and Uhen noticed sexual dimorphism in Coryphodon, where the male members had large or small canines in comparison to females. The size of the canines and the animal, in general, can be compared to present-day hippos. It also had large tusks which were used to uproot plants.
The exact number of bones is present in this mammal is unknown.
Communication between these animals that roamed the Earth 55 million years ago is still a mystery but many scientists over the past decades have come up with several theories that suggest possible ways these animals communicated, some put forth the theory of vocalizations and that they engaged in dialogue by producing calls, cracking sounds, body movements, and symbolic love calls during the mating season.
It was a buffalo-sized mammal that lived in Wyoming, USA, and grew up to 8.2 ft (2.5 m) in length and 3.3 ft (1 m) in height.
The speed rate of this pre-historic animal is unknown. However, because this animal's upper body was more prominent than that lower parts, it had a heavy body, squat legs, and stumpy feet, which indicates that its legs were used to support its heavy body, and not run fast.
Curious about its weight? Well, it was quite heavy and weighed around 1,100 lb (500 kg).
It does not have sex-specific names for its male and female members, they are simply denoted as males and females.
There is no specific term to describe a baby Coryphodon, however, some suggest that since they were viviparous, the offspring can be referred to as a calf.
Coryphodon (peaked tooth) followed a herbivore diet and had a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Isotopic studies revealed that in the daytime they fed on flowering plants, leaves, aquatic plants, and several other soft vegetation. During night time its diet primarily consisted of evergreen needles, twigs, fungi, and leaf litter as they do not require sunlight to grow.
They were not aggressive, nor did they have to defend themselves as most predators from their era were smaller than the mammal.
It is known for having the smallest brain among the living or extinct mammals, with its brain weighing only 3.2 oz (90 g).
It is also considered as the ancestor of Hypercoryphodon from Late Eocene Mongolia.
The specimens recovered had an enormous pair of tusks extending from the upper jaw, which was used to uproot plants and during courtship
Fossils consisting of its teeth and dentary bones revealed that it followed a herbivore diet. Its teeth were suited for processing plants that had been grabbed by browsing. They fed on several flowering plants, leaves, shrubs, bushes, fungi, and occasionally on fruits.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Razanandrongobe facts, or Archelon fun facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Coryphodon coloring pages.