Astrapotherium

Name: Astrapotherium ‭(‬Great lightning beast‭)‬.
Phonetic: As-trah-po-fee-ree-um.
Named By: Hermann Burmeister‭ ‬-‭ ‬1879.
Synonyms: Listriotherium, Mesembriotherium, Xylotherium.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Astrapotheria,‭ ‬Astrapotheriidae.
Species: A.‭ ‬magnum‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: About‭ ‬2.5‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: South America.
Time period: Early Miocene.
Fossil representation: Well preserved remains.

       Astrapotherium is noted for having high nostrils,‭ ‬something that has led to the idea that a great amount of soft tissue was present upon this part of the head.‭ ‬The exact kind of tissue however is still unknown,‭ ‬with speculation that it could have been some kind of short trunk or prehensile lip,‭ ‬or possibly an inflated nasal area.‭ ‬Other features include four enlarged canine teeth that grew to form tusks that probably protruded from the mouth when it was closed.‭ ‬Additionally the incisors of the lower jaw grew large and possibly connected with a tough pad in the upper jaw.‭ ‬The hind quarters also have a surprisingly light build for such a large animal,‭ ‬indicating that they were weak.‭
       Altogether these things could point towards Astrapotherium being a semi aquatic animal that foraged around wetlands and swamps.‭ ‬In these habitats water buoyancy would support the body weight,‭ ‬removing the need for Astrapotherium to have‭ ‬strong supporting limbs.‭ ‬The tusk-like canines would also be capable of root up plants while the incisors could scoop plants from the water.‭ ‬The high nostrils of the skull would have either made it easier for Astrapotherium to still breathe as it fed in the water,‭ ‬perhaps even being so well developed into a trunk or lip to help manipulate food into the mouth.

Further reading
- Nuevos restos de mamíferos fósiles descubiertos por Carlos Ameghino en el Eoceno inferior de la Patagonia austral. – Especies nuevas, adiciones y correcciones [New remains of fossil mammals discovered by Carlos Ameghino in the lower Eocene of southern Patagonia. – New species, additions, and corrections]. - Revista Argentina de Historia Natural 1:289-328. F. Ameghino - 1891.



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