Named By: Florentino Ameghino - 1887.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Litopterna, Macraucheniidae.
Species: T. fontanus (fontanai), T. garretorum, T. gracilis, T. karaikensis, T. lydekkeeri, T. patagonica.
Size: 2 meters long.
Known locations: South America.
Time period: Aquitanian through to Serravallian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Several specimens.
was probably a lot like a llama in appearance, however it was not
actually related to this group of mammals (the Camelidae) but
instead was a litoptern mammal, the dominant group of mammals in
South America before it became joined to North America. This is a
case of convergent evolution where even though the animal is
unrelated, it still develops similar features and appearance in order
to cope with the same survival challenges. Others of this group like
became more like primitive horses like Mesohippus
America, while other forms like Macrauchenia
became more like camels
albeit with some unusual features. In fact Theosodon
considered as being the ancestor to Macrauchenia.
Theosodon is noted for having a narrow jaw with a full complement of forty-four teeth, the maximum number that are known for placental mammals, although often mammals are known to have less, especially in later more advanced forms. Like the related Macrauchenia, Theosodon might have been a generalist herbivore that both browsed vegetation and grazed grass. Although two meters long, Theosodon was within the predatory scope of marsupials like Borhyaena, but was already in decline if not gone by the time the sabre-toothed Thylacosmilus appeared. An even greater threat however would have come from large phorusrhacid terror birds like Phorusrhacos and Kelenken that would have easily had both the speed and killing power to take down an animal the size of Theosodon. It is also worth noting that the decline of Theosodon does seem to coincide with the rise of large phorusrhacids.