Temporal range: Late Miocene – Early Pleistocene
|An artist's illustration of Ancylotherium|
Ancylotherium was one of the last surviving chalicotheres and was not a knuckle-walker. One of the last surviving chalicotheres, Ancylotherium was a cousin of the bizarre knuckle-walking chalicotheres of the Oligocene. These animals were built rather like large goats.
Sparse remains of Ancylotherium have been found at many of the most famous hominid fossil sites in East and South Africa, such as Laetoli, Olduvai and Omo. They inhabited the patchy savannah-land of Africa and they were herbivorous and browsed vegetation. Ancylotherium's build enabled it to reach up and browse the vegetation studding the plains of Africa and this creature is very similar to the North American chalicothere Moropus, which is better known.
They lived 6.5-2 million years ago. The chalicotheres were cousins to the horses and tapirs, and evolved in the mid Eocene from small, forest-living animals rather like the early horses. In the early Oligocene the family split into two groups: one were rather like goats and the other had developed long claws and had to walk on their knuckles. They are odd-toed hoofed animals (perissodactyls): tapir, horses, rhinos (and the extinct brontotheres). The best place to see their fossils are at the Natural History Museum.And many people today say that they still roam deep in the rain forests of Africa.