Charles Darwin stumbled upon one of, what he called, the strangest animals ever encountered. The Macrauchenia patachonica was an extinct animal, whose fossils Darwin had found but neither him nor his colleague, Richard Owen, a British paleontologist, could figure it out. But now scientists have cracked down the Macrauchenia patachonica.
Scientists Crack the Macrauchenia Patachonica Case
The last member of the species died approximately 12,000 years ago. The Macrauchenia lived during the last ice age. It looked like a bulky camel without a hump, having the neck of a llama and a short trunk as a nose.
Ross MacPhee, study coauthor and a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, said about the animal that
“It was a fairly bulky quadruped, probably not very fleet of foot”.
He said that the most remarkable aspect of the Macrauchenia patachonica was its nose. The researchers do not know whether it was an actual trunk, as in the case of an elephant-like nose, or if it was more of an appendage, like the proboscis of a tapir, he added. Especially since the opening was, per MacPhee’s account, right between the eyes, not above its mouth.
In a previous study, for example, researchers tried to place the Macrauchenia patachonica on the tree of life by using ancient collagen. This was two years ago. MacPhee and his colleague, Michi Hofreiter, have built on the 2015-study by extracting mitochondrial DNA from a fossil found in South America. In addition to this, however, the researchers also used a different, new approach in order to recover the genome of the Macrauchenia patachonica.
Because the tests and results confirmed their hypothesis and approach, they have since included it in the tree of life, being related to the hypo, horse, and elephant. Their work regarding the Macrauchenia patachonica gave them hope for further research regarding other extinct species of whose fossils are still uncovered, discovered, and analyzed.
Image Source: Walking With Wikia