Name: Palaeotherium ‭(‬Ancient beast‭)‬.
Phonetic: Pay-lee-o-fee-ree-um.
Named By: Georges Cuvier‭ ‬-‭ ‬1804.‭
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Perissodactyla,‭ ‬Palaeotheriidae.
Species: P.‭ ‬curtum,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬duvalii,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬magnum,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬medium,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬minus,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬muehlbergi,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬parvulum.‭ *‬Note‭ ‬-‭ ‬Not all species are recognised by all sources,‭ ‬more precise details unavailable at the time of writing.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: About‭ ‬120‭ ‬centimetres long,‭ ‬75‭ ‬to‭ ‬140‭ ‬centimetres high at the shoulder.‭ ‬Measurements vary between species.
Known locations: Europe,‭ ‬including France,‭ ‬Germany,‭ ‬Spain,‭ ‬Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Time period: Lutetian through to Priabonian of the Eocene,‭ ‬possibly into the Rupelian of the Oligocene.
Fossil representation: Multiple individuals.

       The many individuals of Palaeotherium recovered from Eocene era deposits in Europe indicate that it was one of the most common mammals across Europe‭ (‬especially the Western portion‭) ‬during this time.‭ ‬When first described by Georges Cuvier,‭ ‬Palaeotherium was thought to be related to the ancient Tapirs,‭ ‬but today it is more widely considered to be a closer relative to primitive horse.‭ ‬In this respect,‭ ‬Palaeotherium may have shared a more recent common ancestor with the horses,‭ ‬and represents a line of mammals that diverged slightly away from horses,‭ ‬but one that would ultimately not be as successful as them.
       Palaeotherium was a quadrupedal mammal that was adapted to browsing low vegetation either near the ground or up to around a meter to one and half meters above it.‭ ‬It is unlikely that Palaeotherium could reach much farther past this mark due to skeletal limitations‭ (‬depending upon the specific species‭)‬.‭ ‬Palaeotherium was a creature that was well adapted to the forests that covered most of the Northern Hemisphere during the Eocene,‭ ‬but as the Eocene continued and passed in to the Oligocene,‭ ‬and the climate cooled and dried,‭ ‬these forests were slowly being replaced by grassy plains.‭ ‬The horses for their part adapted to these new conditions developing different teeth suitable for processing grass by grazing rather than browsing leaves like their ancestors.‭ ‬Older forms like Palaeotherium however,‭ ‬simply did not change to meet these new ecosystems,‭ ‬and in time went extinct as newer,‭ ‬better adapted herbivores replaced them.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Mammals from the Bartonian‭ (‬middle/late Eocene‭) ‬of the Hampshire Basin,‭ ‬southern England,‭ ‬J.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Hooker‭ ‬-‭ ‬1986.
- First occurrence of Palaeotheriidae (Perissodactyla) from the late–middle Eocene of eastern Thrace (Greece). - Comptes Rendus Palevol. 16 (4): 382–396. - Grégoire Métais & Sevket Sen - 2017.


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