Named By: Hopwood - 1926.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Suidae.
Species: M. andrewsi (type), M. modestus. Possibly also M. compactus, M. hopwoodi, M. jacksoni M. meadowsi.
Size: About 1.5 meters long.
Known locations: Africa, particularly Eastern countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, but also known from more distant African countries.
Time period: Late Pliocene to Pleistocene.
Fossil representation: Multiple specimens numbering in the hundreds.
often called the ‘giant warthog’, Metridiochoerus
around the same size as a large African warthog (Phacochoerus
africanus). Metridiochoerus however
had four enlarged tusks that
grew from the upper jaw which grew to the sides while also curving
upwards. Another similar detail with the modern warthog is that
Metridiochoerus also seems to have been an
omnivore, an idea proposed
from the complicated structure of the teeth which would have been
suitable for a variety of different foods rather than a specific
purpose. This would indicate that Metridiochoerus
fulfilled a similar
ecological niche to the African warthog, primarily feeding upon
grasses, berries, bark and roots, but also incorporating meat
when it came across carrion as well.
Because Metridiochoerus seems to be so similar to the African warthog there is even greater mystery as to why Metridiochoerus went extinct while the African warthog lived. It is often observed that no two animals can occupy the same niche in an ecosystem and when this does happen both animals live in reduced populations compared to others that dominate their niche. It could be that the balance between the two was somehow tipped in favour of the African warthog over Metridiochoerus. This could possibly be because the often smaller size of the African warthog which today’s ranges from 0.9 to 1.5 meters long may have allowed it to develop a larger population which then started to edge Metridiochoerus out. This however is but simple conjecture and further research and study over the coming years will likely reveal a more complete picture of ancient African ecosystems.