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ARTIODACTYLS
COW
     Artiodactyls are a large group of even-toed herbivores (as opposed to the odd-toed perissodactyls consisting of horses, rhinos, and tapirs).  Artiodactyls include deer, cattle, pigs, giraffes, antelope, camels, goats, sheep, and bison.  Although there are a number of wild artiodactyls in North America such as moose, peccaries, bison, and mountain goats, the only animal in our area is the white tailed deer, a member of the deer family Cervidae.  All deer are hoofed mammals which shed their antlers annually.

      The earliest artiodactyl (a group of “even toed” ungulates including cattle, deer, camels, giraffes, pigs, etc.) was the rabbit sized Lower Eocene Diacodexis.   The smallest modern artiodactyl is Tragulus  which weighs less than 2 pounds (between .7 and 8 kg).  Hippos can weigh up to 4,500 kg and giraffes can attain heights of almost 6 meters. 

     Artiodactyls possess an even number of toes (usually two) as is evident in the following photo of the foot of a lama. 

DIACODEXIS LLAMA FOOT

PIGS

PIG

     Pigs and their relatives are known as suiforms.  Anthracotherids lived from the Eocene to the Pleistocene. While early forms were the size of a terrier, later species could reach hippo size.  Hippos have existed since the Miocene and earlier hippo species had primitive tooth counts and slender limbs.  Primitive pigs existed from the Eocene and Oligocene (whose heads could reach 1 m in length).  Dinohyus stood 6 feet tall at the shoulder.  Platygonus was one of the most common mammals in North America.
FOSSIL PIG FOSSIL PIG

DEER

Among the deer (family Cervidae), many lack antlers in males (subfamily Hydropotinae).  Some of the antlered forms are related, such as the tufted deer and muntjacs (subfamily Muntiacinae) with their short antlers and the Old World deer (subfamily Cervinae) with their more extensive antlers.  The antlered New World deer (subfamily Odoncoileinae) may have had a separate origin from that of the other antlered deer (Miyamoto, 1990).

Deer have evolved a variety of antler shapes, such as that of the fossil brush-antlered deer.

The “Irish Elk” was a large deer with enormous antlers.

 

BRUSH ANTLERED DEER
IRISH ELK

BISON

Bison were once native to this area but the eastern subspecies was hunted to extinction.

bison bison
bison skull bison skull