Moeritherium

Name: Moeritherium ‭(‬Moeris beast‭ ‬-‭ ‬after Lake Moeris‭)‬.
Phonetic: Meh-ree-fee-ree-um.
Named By: Charles William Andrews‭ ‬-‭ ‬1901.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Proboscidea,‭ ‬Moeritheriidae.
Species: M.‭ ‬lyonsi‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬andrewsi,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬chehbeurameuri,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬gracile,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬trigodon.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: 70 ‭centi‬meters high at the shoulder.
Known locations: North Africa.
Time period: Priabonian of the Eocene to Rupelian of the Oligocene.
Fossil representation: Many specimens.

       Although Moeritherium is popularly dubbed as a primitive elephant,‭ ‬it is not directly ancestral to today‭’‬s modern elephants.‭ ‬In fact in the past the elephants radiated out into a number of different families of varying forms,‭ ‬but like with other mammal groups most of these did survive into modern times.‭ ‬Hailing all the way back to the Eocene however,‭ ‬Moeritherium does give us a glimpse into the adaptability of early elephants in both form and ecological niche.‭ ‬This in turn allows for a more complete picture of the evolution of elephants to be established.
       Moeritherium seems to have been some kind of tapir/hippopotamus cross in form and would have appeared quite different to how we know elephants today.‭ ‬Firstly there was no trunk,‭ ‬possibly because Moeritherium was already close to the ground.‭ ‬Moeritherium possibly had a muscular upper lip however,‭ ‬something that would give it the ability to grip hold of plants.‭ ‬Two large incisor teeth projected downwards from the upper jaw,‭ ‬but no way near to the extent of the tusks of later elephants.‭ ‬The other teeth it the mouth seem to be suited for cutting and slicing lush leafy vegetation like that which you find in wetlands.‭ ‬Additionally,‭ ‬analysis of the paleoecology associated with Moeritherium fossil sites corroborates the conclusion that Moeritherium inhabited wetland environments.
       Although a primitive genus of elephants,‭ ‬Moeritherium seem to have lived more like hippopotamuses,‭ ‬wallowing around in river systems and surrounding areas of lush growth which were far more common in Africa back then.‭ ‬This is in stark contrast to the locations of Moeritherium fossils as many are known from such countries as Algeria,‭ ‬Libya and Egypt which today are much more arid than they used to be in the past.

Further reading
- Preliminary note on some recently discovered extinct vertebrates from Egypt. (Part III). - Geological Magazine Decade 4(9):291-295 - C. W. Andrews - 1902.
- Revision of Palaeomastodon and Moeritherium. PalŠomastodon intermedius, and Phiomia osborni, new species. - American Museum Novitates. Number 51, November 21. - H. Matsumoto - 1922.
- A Contribution to the Knowledge of Moeritherium. - Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History ; v. 48, article 4. p. 97-140. - H. Matsumoto - 1923.
- A new species of Moeritherium (Proboscidae, Mammalia) from the Eocene of Algeria: new perspectives on the ancestral morphotype of the genus. - Palaeontology 49 (2), 421-434. - C. Delmer, M. MahboubiR. Tabuce & P. Tassy - 2006.




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