STL Science Center

STL Science Center

22 March 2016

A Wisened Beast

The gravel beasts are well studied. The fossil history of Chalicotherium is well known across two continents and has been well known for nearly two centuries now. In that time many papers have been written ranging from simple anatomical descriptions (sometimes in their native languages because they are older) to complex ecological descriptions. New Chalicotherium material is still recovered in places like Mongolia and China but so far these new discoveries have not led to any all encompassing studies beyond description that I have found online. There are a few older papers on biomechanics of the vertebral column that reference Chalicotherium in passing, as there should be given the extreme curvature of the vertebral column that is often depicted in mounted skeletons and illustrations. Curvature of this animal's spinal column is actually quite intriguing and, despite following the normal quadrupedal arching theme of vertebral columns, appears to be exaggerated. Although we are a little let down in that study not discussing Chalicotherium more we can always be sure, with mammals, that we will have more than enough biomechanics and wear patterns of teeth to read about. This is not a negative, it just happens that mammalian teeth, no unlike dinosaur teeth, are pervasive in the fossil record and many studies have been conducted using teeth to examine enamel, wear patterns, and many other topics.

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