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Pyrotherium

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Pyrotherium
Pyrotherium
Name Pyrotherium
Order Pyrotheria
Family Pyrotheriidae
Class Mammalia
Name Translation Fire Beast
Period Early Oligocene epoch of the Cenozoic Era
Location Argentina, South America
Diet Herbivorous
Length 3 metres (10 feet) long

Pyrotherium ('fire beast') is an extinct genus of South American ungulate, of the order Pyrotheria, that lived in what is now Argentina, during the Early Oligocene. It was named "Fire Beast" because the first specimens were excavated from an ancient volcanic ashfall.

The vaguely elephant-like Pyrotherium was 3 m (10 ft) long and 1.50 m (5 ft) tall at the shoulders. Its heavy body was carried by robust legs. Pyrotherium also had a short trunk on its snout, and two pairs of flat, forward-facing tusks in the upper jaw, with a single pair in the lower jaw. Possible South American descendants of the xenungulates, the complete study of the tarsus of Pyrotherium fails to support this relationship. In one study, derived characters were not seen in any mammal examined except the embrithopod Arsinoitherium from the Tertiary of Africa. Whether this is due to common ancestry, or to the unusual mode of locomotion used by these animals (graviportal and plantigrade) remains to be seen.

Pyrotherium have convergent similarity with the primitive Proboscidea, which was caused by the similarity of their ecological niches occupied. Pyrotherium has massive physique, columnar legs with short, wide toes, as well as a large head with a small trunk. The four upper and two lower incisor teeth resembling tusks, which were issued in advance. These animals reach 3 m in length and 1.5 m tall at the shoulders. The name, which in Greek means "Fiery Beast," was given because of the fact that the first fossils of Pyrotherium were found in sedimentary rocks of volcanic ash. The period of their existence is also not particularly long. Pyrotheriums relationship with other South American ungulates (Meridiungulata) is currently not clear. The structure of the tarsus does not indicate any sort that there was a clear relationship with them. With the tarsus bones in the foot, Pyrotherium is similar to that of Arsinoitherium, but it is unclear whether this is evidence of relationship of these animals (who are representatives of different orders), or this similarity is dictated by a similar method of movement (i.e, convergence).

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