Today I had good reason to send to Markus Bühler – my good friend and an avid Tet Zoo supporter – several images of entelodonts. What the hell, I thought, why not share one of these images with the rest of you. This awesome life-sized model depicts the Oligocene-Miocene North American entelodont Daeodon (formerly better known by its synonym Dinohyus) and is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It’s a shame there’s no scale in the photo: Daeodon was huge (c. 1.8 m tall at the shoulder). The model is fantastically accurate: it even has snot in its nostrils.
As was previously mentioned in the POTD article on omnivorous ceratopsians, it’s quite well known that entelodonts are widely regarded as omnivores, as is indicated by their pointed incisors, recurved, pointed, serrated canines*, serrated premolars, unusually mobile** jaw joint, and by studies on bite strength (Effinger 1998, Joeckel 1990). Oh yeah, and there’s the discovery of a pile of bitten-in-half little stenomyline camels, the marks on their bones matching the anatomy of entelodont teeth. Massive bony cheek flanges and bony tubercles on the lower jaw might have been used in intraspecific fights, and some specimens preserve skull injuries apparently inflicted by other entelodonts.
* The canines were serrated in juveniles, but the serrations generally became worn away during ontogeny.
** Unusually mobile for an artiodactyl that is.
The postcranial morphology of entelodonts is remarked upon less often. Even giant forms had a surprisingly gracile, slender neck, but big neural spines on the anterior thoracic vertebrae show that very large nuchal ligaments were present: the anterior thoracic neural spines of Daeodon are almost on par with those of bison and other tall-spined ungulates. Entelodonts were strongly cursorial, with elongate and slender limbs where the radius and ulna, and tibia and fibula, are often fused together. Unlike anthracotheres and pigs, entelodonts were didactyl. Not only were they nasty and with a frightening dentition, they were also fast! More on them one day in the future.
Entelodonts may or may not be suiforms, but for Tet Zoo ver 1 articles on extant suiforms check out: welcome to the world of babirusas, the many babirusa species, meet peccary # 4 and why putting your hand in a peccary’s mouth is a bad idea.
Hmm, that was less of a ‘picture of the day’ and more of a ‘post of the day’.
Refs – –
Effinger, J. A. 1998. Entelodontidae. In Janis, C. M., Scott, K. M. & Jacobs, L. L. (eds) Evolution of Tertiary Mammals of North America. Volume 1: Terrestrial Carnivores, Ungulates, and Ungulatelike Mammals. Cambridge University Press, pp. 375-380.
Joeckel, R. M. 1990. A functional interpretation of the masticatory system and paleoecology of entelodonts. Paleobiology 16, 459-482.