Named By: Edward Drinker Cope - 1882.
Synonyms: Gujaratia, Trigonolestes.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Dichobunidae.
Species: D. antunesi, D. gazini, D. gracilis, D. ilicis, D. indicus, D. kelleyi, D. metsiacus, D. minutus, D. pakistanensis, D. parvus, D. primus, D. secans, D. woltonensis.
Size: Up to 50 centimetres long.
Known locations: Across Eurasia and North America.
Time period: Ypresian to Lutetian (possibly Bartonian) of the Eocene.
Fossil representation: Hundreds of specimens.
is an early indicator of the forms that the ungulates (hoofed
mammals) evolved from, though Diacodexis may
not have been ‘the’
ancestor even though it was certainly related to them. The main clue
that Diacodexis is a candidate for being an
ancestral form of
artiodactyl is that while the feet still have five toes, the third
and fourth toes were slightly elongated. Through successive
generations over the course of millions of years, these two toes
would form the foundation of hooves while the other three toes would
reduce to the point of being vestigial.
In life Diacodexis would have lived in a similar manner to a small deer, remaining hidden in dense undergrowth while browsing and only walking out in the open when absolutely necessary. While its body shape and proportions are indeed similar however, Diacodexis had a much longer tail. The long legs of Diacodexis are proportioned like those of a runner and it’s possible that if it could not stay hidden from predators, it may have tried running through the undergrowth to escape them. In such a scenario the long legs would also allow Diacodexis to more easily clear ground obstacles like exposed roots and fallen branches than shorter legged pursuers.