Deinotherium Skull

D. bozasi ( Arambourg , 1934)
D. giganteum ( Kaup , 1829)
D. indicum ( Falconer , 1845)
D. "thraceiensis" (Kovachev, 1964)
D. proavum (Eichwald, 1831)

Deinotherium ("terrible beast" derived from the Ancient Greek δεινός, deinos meaning "terrible" and θηρίον, therion meaning "beast") was a large prehistoric relative of modern-day elephants that appeared in the Middle Miocene and survived until the Early Pleistocene. During that time it changed very little. In life, it probably resembled modern elephants , except that its trunk was shorter, and it had downward curving tusks attached to the lower jaw.

Deinotherium is the type genus of the family Deinotheriidae , which evolved from the smaller, early Miocene Prodeinotherium . These proboscideans represent a totally distinct line of evolutionary descent to that of other elephants, one that probably diverged very early in the history of the group as a whole. The large group to which elephants belong formerly contained several other related groups: besides the deinotheres, there were the gomphotheres (some of which had shovel-like lower front teeth), and the mastodons. Only elephants survive today.

Deinotherium was a large proboscidean. Two adults of D. giganteum are around 3.63–4 metres (11.9–13.1 ft) tall and weight 8.8–12 tonnes (8.7–11.8 long tons; 9.7–13.2 short tons). This is similar to adult males of D. proavum , one of which weighted 10.3 tonnes (10.1 long tons; 11.4 short tons) and was 3.59 metres (11.8 ft) tall. However, both these species are smaller than a 45-year-old male of D. "thraceiensis" , at 4.01 metres (13.2 ft) tall and 13.2 tonnes (13.0 long tons; 14.6 short tons) in weight. [1]

Deinotherium is distinguished from its predecessor Prodeinotherium by its much greater size, greater crown dimensions, and reduced development of posterior cingula ornamentation in the second and third molar. [2]

Deinotheriidae ("terrible beasts") is a family of prehistoric elephant-like proboscideans that lived during the Cenozoic era , first appearing in Africa, then spreading across southern Asia (Indo-Pakistan) and Europe. During that time they changed very little, apart from growing much larger in size; by the late Miocene they had become the largest land animals of their time. Their most distinctive feature was the downward curving tusks on the lower jaw.

Deinotheres were not very diverse; there are only three known genera : Chilgatherium , Prodeinotherium and Deinotherium . These form an evolutionary succession with each new genus replacing the preceding one.

Unlike the various mammoth and mastodont lineages, the deinotheres died out in the early Pleistocene, rather than continuing through the ice age.

The body shape and proportions of deinotheres were very much like those of modern elephants. The legs were long, like modern elephants, but the skull was rather flatter than that of true elephants. The upper jaw lacked incisor and canine teeth, but possessed five low-crowned molars on each side, with the same number in the lower jaw. Research has shown that deinotheres used their front teeth for crushing their food, and the back teeth for shearing (slicing), the plant material. [1]

The front part of the lower jaw was turned downwards, and bore the two tusk-like incisors. These curved downwards and backwards in a sort of huge hook, and constituted the most distinct feature of the deinotheres. The tusks were used to strip vegetation rather than for digging. [1]

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