Anisodon grande, a large chalicothere from the Late Miocene of Europe, about 15 million years ago. Standing 1.5m tall at the shoulder (4′11″), it looked somewhat like a cross between a gorilla, a horse, and a giant sloth – or like a mammal trying to mimic a therizinosaur. Its long forelimbs were probably used to pull down high tree branches so it could browse on the leaves, while spending most of its time sitting on its well-padded haunches.
Despite its huge claws, knuckle-walking gait, and distinct lack of hooves, it was actually an odd-toed ungulate related to modern horses, rhinos, and tapirs.
Literally meaning “gravel beasts”, these guys were a group of odd toed ungulates (which includes the horses, rhinos and taipirs) that were found across Asia, Europe, N. America and Africa between 55.8 and 3.5 million years ago.
These guys would have evolved ancestors similar to small early horses, but some, such as Chalicotherium grande (shown above) would have reached sizes greater than modern day horses.
What is most striking about these dudes were their HUGE forelimbs and relatively tiny hindlimbs, completely different to any modern odd-toed ungulate we know today. Their forelimbs had long curved claws, and their knuckles were thick and well developed, much like modern day gorillas. Thus it is thought that these guys were knuckle-walkers, much like giant anteaters do today.
Clues from the teeth of these knuckle-walking horse monsters suggest that they lived as selective browsers (herbivores that feed off high growing leaves, shoots, or fruits of shrubs and trees) possibly using their bizzarely long arms and hooked claws to pull down leafy branches of trees and shrubs within the wooded savannah habitat where they lived.
Hooved animals don’t get hands in Zootopia apparently. This was jarring to me at first as we’ve seen that Gazelle (gazelle) and Bogo (cape buffalo) have hoof-hands. Then I realized why there’s a difference… Giraffes, gazelles and cape buffalo, for instance, are even-toed ungulates. It makes some sense that they would have fingers in Zootopia. But zebra and donkeys (the Zootopia species we’ve seen with hooves so far) are odd-toed ungulates with one hoof per limb.
I knew Disney was doing their homework with this movie given how the fur for the many species being represented is being uniquely modeled after how it appears in real life. The team also recalled watching each animal in real life to make sure the character’s movements are authentic. But damn, they’re precise down to the toe-number!
Must suck for the horses and donkeys though. Can’t use a smart-phone with hooves.