Artiodactyla

My good pal @socknessmonster and I have been tossing around ideas for a li'l story we’re gonna write
And yes we have actual characters that I’ll probably share but i have a bad habit of worldbuilding monsters-first so here are the kelpies that patrol the beach and inland waterways of the setting. Though superficially similar to horses they share a closer lineage to the hippopotamus with an attitude to match. They usually mind their own business, but are fiercely territorial and will attack (and often eat) small annoying animals such as children that try to ride them. This has earned them a reputation as maneaters, and they were promptly hunted to near extinction. Small coastal populations still exist because local communities believe they keep away mermaids, which despite being rarer even than kelpies, they inexplicably seem to be perfectly adapted to lure wayward sailors close with their eeirily humanlike “faces” and reported habit of strategically stalking and even “playing” with their prey to draw them to the water’s edge.

Daeodon, from the late Oligocene and early Miocene of North America (~29-19 mya). About 1.8m tall at the shoulders (6′), it was one of the last and largest of the entelodonts, a group of omnivorous even-toed ungulates with long bone-crushing jaws.

Although often called “hell pigs” or “terminator pigs”, entelodonts weren’t actually pigs at all – instead they were much more closely related to hippos, whales, and Andrewsarchus.

hallo yes!

friend orca is dolphin- but friend dolphin is whale!

really proper word is “cetacean.” basically goes like this.

here we have big famly. lotta cousins n friends! but whale famly not actually “family” when talking taxonomy! whale famly bigger than taxonomic family!

now you see that word “order” up there? basic phylogeny goes Kingdom>Phylum>Class>Order>Family>Genus>Species. help to remember: king phillip came over from germany swimming!  (actually, cetacea is an infraorder- whale friends in order artiodactyla- but that little confusing. important idea is that you see that friend whale and friend dolphin and friend porpoise all in same group!) 

now some whales, they have the baleen. but other whales? they have ‘em the teef. they allll a group call Odontoceti, which mean “tooth whale.” word dolphin means “whale in taxonomic family Delphinidae.” still whale! whale not one family, whale one order. to be whale, need be in cetacea, so all dolphin technically whale, but not all whale technically dolphin. hope makes sense! 

(I mean, if it doesn’t make sense I can go into more detail in actual grammatical sense, but this was fun.)

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Andrewsarchus mongoliensis (“Andrew’s Ruler”)

….One of my favorite prehistoric mammals for semi-obvious reasons, Andrewsarchus was a species of mammal that lived during the Eocene epoch. Although Andrewsarchus looks similar to a creodont or carnivoran it is actually more closely related to Artiodactyls.

A.mongoliensis is known only from a single meter long skull found in Mongolia and as such much of its paleobiology is up for debate. Some sources claim it could of been a predator and others claim it was a scavenger. Newer theories claim that it could of been an omnivore due to its ‘blunt’ teeth. However, Andrewsarchus did posses a very strong set of jaws, one of the strongest of all land mammals, and could bite straight through bones. Judging from the coastal location of its fossil Andrewsarchus probably frequented beaches and likely fed beached whales, turtles, shellfish and large land mammals (such as brontotheres)

Phylogeny

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Images: DiBgd and Ryan Somma

Thorold’s Deer (Cervus albirostris)

Also sometimes known as the white-lipped deer, Thorold’s deer is a threatened species of deer that is endemic to the eastern Tibetan Plateau. Thorold’s deer typically inhabit grassland, shrubland and high altitude forests.  Like other deer C. albirostris is mainly crepuscular and lives in small herds of around ten animals. They are grazers and will feed on a wide range of plants, notably grasses and sedges. However they will eat larger plats like willows and rhododendrons as well.

Currently Cervus albirostris is listed as threatened and faces threats from habitat loss and hunting. 

Classification

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Image: Greg Geobel

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Marsh Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus)

…a large (the largest on their continent) species of deer (Cervidae) which is native to South America, where it occurs in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. True to their common names, marsh deer typically inhabit wet marshy areas like the patanal and gran chaco. They are noted swimmers and can move through the water quite rapidly. Marsh deer feed on a wide variety of aquatic plants (some studies have documented over 40 different species!) with members of Graminae and Pontederiaceae making up most of their diet. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Artiodactyla-Cervidae-Odocoileinae-Blastocerus-B. dichotomus

Images: Jonathan Wilkins and Leonel Baldoni

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Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana) typically live in polygynous herds where a group of females resides within a single, dominant male’s territory. Sometimes, rejected loner males will form all-male “bachelor herds.” These herds are often boisterous and semi-alcoholic and their incessant tomfoolery is considered an annoyance to the local, respectable females.

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Markhor (Capra falconeri)

…a species of wild goat that is distributed throughout the mountains of central Asia, with populations also found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Like other goats the markhor is an expert climber and is often seen on rock faces and cliffs. Markhor are active during the day and feed mostly on tusscok grass, however during the winter they will switch to shrubbery. Markhor live in small groups that consist of females and young, males usually live alone. However, during the rut the males will join the herds and compete for mates. Currently the markhor is listed as endangered with around 2,500 individuals left in the wild. This is thought to be due in part to hunting and habitat loss.

they are also the national animals of Pakistan.

Phylogeny

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Image Source(s)

Whalevolution Month #23 – Macrodelphinus

Roughly the size of a modern orca, about 7m long (23′), Macrodelphinus was probably an apex predator. Known from California, 23 million years ago, it was a member of a an odd group of toothed whales called the Eurhinodelphinidae – cetaceans with elongated swordfish-like upper jaws. Their exact evolutionary relationships are unclear, although they might be related to the beaked whales.

The long snout may have been used in a similar manner to the swordfish it resembles, slashing to injure and stun its prey.