Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BRONTOTHERE (Titanothere) FAMILY: Be Mythic


Originally known as “Thunder Beasts”, the Brontothere Family first appeared during the Eocene Epoch (about 56 million years ago).  Once the size of dogs, these Odd-toed Grazers grew to an enormous sizes, and developed forked nasal horns.  Since Brontotheres traveled in herds and roamed about, their fossil bones were found in many places.  Because of this, paleontologists kept “discovering” Them over and over again.
            For example, the most well-known of the Brontotheres, Brontotherium was called four different names.  They were Brontotherium, Brontops, Megacerops, and Titanops.  His official name became Megacerops (“giant horned face”).  However many people still prefer to call Him, Brontotherium (“thunder beast”).
            Beside their great size, Brontotheres are also well-known for their nasal horns.  Their forked horns were bones covered by skin, much like the horns of modern Giraffes.  These horns were used in mating battles, since the Males had the larger ones.  (Brontotheres had heavy skulls and strong neck muscles to absorb the shocks.)
            Although Brontotheres resembled modern Rhinos, They were more closely related to Horses.  Unlike the horns of Rhinos, their horns did not have keratin, and were side by side instead of front to back.  When Brontotheres first appeared, They looked like early Horses (such as Hyracotherium).  In fact in their earlier stages of evolution, these two Families were often mistaken for each other.  As each Family evolved, Horses lost their three toes whilst Brontotheres retained theirs.
            Brontotheres roamed the forests of the Eocene searching for tender tree leaves to eat.  Their lips and tongues would grasp the leaves and tear them off.  Since the teeth of Brontotheres were primitive millstones, They could not eat the grasses that became dominate during the Oligocene Epoch, and went extinct about 34 million years ago.
            While Brontotheres roamed throughout North America, They encountered the volcanic Rocky Mountains.  Many were killed by volcanic ash, and later became fossils.  Millions of years later, their bones would emerge after heavy rains.
            When they encountered the fossil remains of Brontotheres, the Lakota Peoples thought that their bones were from a giant animal that fell from the sky.  When this animal crashed onto the earth, He sent thunder across the Great Plains.  In their language, the Lakota called Brontotheres “thunder beasts”.  Later their name was translated into Greek, and became the first scientific name for these Mammals.
            Starting out small, Brontotheres grew to titanic size.  Their size and distinctive horns drew many people’s attention to Them.  Brontotheres were not afraid to live large, and thus They became the stuff of legends in people’s minds as “Thunder Beasts”.  Live large and be mythic teach Brontotheres.  Do not be afraid of life command the Thunder Beasts.

1 comment:

Max Pommer said...

As the first paragraph in your article about Brontoteres might lead to some confusian amongst readers if you write that Brontotheres were "grazers", I recommend discarding that word and replace it by "browsers".
Why?, you may ask.
I do not mean "browsers" in the commonplace sense that is popular nowadays, using a program to file through data on the internet. Rathermore, I mean it in the sense it is used in zoology, defining plant-eating animals that feed primarily on the foliage of dicotyledonous plants instead of grasses. In other words, the teeth of Brontotheres were adapted to chew on leaves from certain trees and/or shrubs which have comparatively soft leaves, in contrast to plants like grass, which were tougher to digest. The word "grazer" might be taken to imply that Brontotheres fed on grass, but that would have most likely caused their teeth to wear down faster, thus threating their capability to feed themselves adaquately before reaching the stage of maturity.