Barytherium , Photo: Michael Lahanas
Barytherium is a genus of an extinct family (Barytheriidae) of primitive proboscidean that lived during the late Eocene and early Oligocene in North Africa. The Barytheriidae were the first large size proboscideans to appear in the fossil records and were characterized by a strong sexual dimorphism .
The only known species within this family is Barytherium grave, found at the beginning of the 20th century in the Fayum, Egypt. More complete specimens have been found since then, at Dor el Talha Libya. In some respects, these animals would have looked similar to a modern Asian Elephant, but with a more slender build. The most visible difference, however, would have been the tusks. Barytherium had eight very short tusks, four each in the upper and lower jaws, which resembled those of a modern hippopotamus more than those of an elephant. The upper pairs were vertical, while the lower pairs projected forwards from the mouth horizontally. Together, these would have created a shearing action for cropping plants.
1. ^ Savage, RJG, & Long, MR (1986). Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide. New York: Facts on File. p. 148. ISBN 0-8160-1194-X.
* Andrews, C.W. 1901. Über das Vorkommen von Proboscidiern in untertertiären Ablagerungen Aegyptens. Tageblatt des V Internationalen Zoologischen Kongresses, Berlin 6: 4–5.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License