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Prolibytherium

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Prolibytherium
Temporal range: Early Miocene
Prolibytherium3-1.jpg
An artist's illustration of a male (left) and female (right) Prolibytherium magnieri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: ?Climacoceratidae
Genus: Prolibytherium
Arambourg, 1961
Referred species
  • Prolibytherium fusus
  • Prolibytherium magnieri (type)

Prolybitherium (meaning "Before Libya's Beast") is a genus of artiodactyl ungulates native to Early Miocene North Africa and Pakistan, from around 16.9 to 15.97 million years ago.

The 1.80 metres (5 ft 11 in) long creature would have superficially resembled an okapi or a deer. Unlike these, however, Prolibytherium displayed dramatic sexual dimorphism, in that the male had a set of large, leaf-shaped ossicones with a width of 35 centimetres (14 in), while the female had a set of slender, horn-like ossicones.

The taxonomic status of Prolibytherium remains in flux. At one time, it was described as a relative of Sivatherium (as a precursor to "Libytherium maurusium" (Sivatherium maurusium)). Later, it would be regarded as a palaeomerycid, or either as a climacoceratid, or as a basal member of Giraffoidea. With the discovery and study of a female skull in 2010, Prolibytherium is tentatively regarded as a climacoceratid.

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