STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 March 2017

Fire Beast Cometh

Fun facts abound today that describe and illustrate the life of the stock mammal Pyrotherium romeri. Its name means "Fire beast" and the discovery of its remains in volcanic deposits makes the name relevant, though not in a way that is bizarre or science-fiction like. Somewhat resembling a rhinoceros in stature and a tapir or small elephant in shape, Pyrotherium is a South American ungulate found in Early Oligocene deposits. As with many mammals, the teeth and skull of Pyrotherium are extremely well known and many specimens have been discovered and studied. We know that the incisors of the animal developed into tusks in both the upper and lower jaws. Two pairs of tusks were found in the upper jaw, and one pair were found in the lower jaw. Illustrations and interpretations of the animal bear this out and the teeth are described on sites like Prehistoric Wildlife and Dinopedia (despite the animal being a mammal).
©Nobu Tamura

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