STL Science Center

STL Science Center

10 May 2016

Melding Posts

Mondays around here are getting somewhat sparse as we get further and further from commonly known taxa. Macrauchenia really does not fall into the "rare taxa" bracket, but videos for the odd beast are severely lacking. Rather than pushing out a post showing someone playing with toys or a ten second clip of a video game, we will go straight on into paper Tuesday. Papers and research done on Macrauchenia are much more abundant than videos and documentaries. The papers span time from its discovery and description to the present day. This time span is represented by Darwin's original description here and then jumps forward to the 1860s; Owen's description exists, but is not hosted online. Darwin thought that the fossils belonged to a giant camel resembling a llama in overall shape. Macrauchenia was well known by the time Huxley named a second species from Bolivia (M. boliviensis) in 1861. In 1865 a revisiting of the dental formula of Macrauchenia by Owen also survived from that decade. The redescription was originally a rebuttal but prompted a more in depth redescription in 1870 by Owen that focused entirely on the dental formula and teeth of the animal as seen in the lower jaw. Owen was particularly interested in describing the molars of the lower jaw in this paper. I cannot find the description of the third species and Cope does not mention a third species in his 1891 summary of the Litopterna. He does mention that M. patachonia is the size of a mule and M. boliviensis is smaller. Most of the summary is concerned with dental formulae again, as are many mammal fossil papers. More recent papers exist on the subject of Macrauchenia and the family Macrauchenidae with the latter receiving more attention as these recent studies contain more overall descriptions of what ties these animals together in a taxonomic family.

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