Sunday, April 22, 2012


As one of the strangest mammals in prehistory, Chalicotherium has baffled paleontologists for a long time.  When fossils were first found of this animal, naturalists thought that She had to be a predator.  What they had discovered were the long sharp claws of Chalicotherium.  Since She had no modern descendents to guide them, paleontologists decided to place Chalicotherium with carnivore-like Mammals.
            However when more fossils were discovered, scientists realized that Chalicotherium had no teeth in her upper jaw.  Moreover, fossilized teeth from this Mammal of the Miocene epoch showed very little wear.  Scientists decided that She ate only the tender shoots from the trees.
            Chalicotherium walked on her knuckles like modern Gorilla and sat on her haunches like modern Panda.  When She walked, her back sloped downwards because of the difference between her long front legs and short strong hind legs.  When Chalicotherium ate, She would use her long legs as her arms to grasp the leaves on trees.  Then She used her razor sharp claws to slice off tender shoots from the trees.  After Chalicotherium placed the leaves in the back of her mouth, She would sit down and chew on them.
            Chalicotherium was unusual since She was an Odd-toed Mammal (Perissodactyl) who had claws instead of hooves.  A distant relative of modern Tapirs and Rhinos, She looked like a cross between a modern Horse and an extinct Giant Ground Sloth.  Unlike the other hoofed Mammals, Chalicotherium regressed back to the original toes of her ancestors.  This is the only known instance of a hoofed Mammal who reverted back to the original clawed toes.
            The extinct Mammal Family that Chalicotherium belongs to is the Chalicotheres.  Knuckle-walkers like Her are called the Chalicotheriinae (after Her).  Meanwhile, her relatives known as the Schizotheriinae (such as Ancylotherium) walked on flat feet.  The Schizotheriinae lived in Africa amongst the early Hominds.
During the Pliocene epoch, Chalicotherium went extinct as more versatile plant eaters emerged.  However, some people believe that She still lives in Africa.  There are stories of a strange Animal with long claws for limbs and a horse-like face living in the jungles.  Other people theorize that the elusive Nandi Bear of Kenya could be Chalicotherium.  However, the tales of Nandi Bear depict a fearsome predator, while Chalicotherium was a gentle-soul who ate tender leaves.
Since She was not in a hurry to go anywhere, Chalicotherium valued slow time.  Instead, this large Mammal preferred to sit still and eat tender tree shoots.  Moreover She turned back time by reverting to the claws of her ancestors instead of retaining the more modern hooves.  When people rushed to judgment about Chalicotherium, they thought that She was a deadly predator.  With the slowness of time, people realized that Chalicotherium was a quiet plant eater.  When the world becomes too fast, let Her show you how to slow down.  Appreciate as She does – the calmness and serenity of slow time.

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