Zarafa’s ancestor


Zarafa’s ancestor

According to Jeune Afrique / AFP of January 13, 2016:

His photo was published Wednesday in the British Royal Society’s Biology Letters. The remains of his skeleton, discovered in the 19th century, had fallen into oblivion until researchers decided to work on the reconstruction of this rather strange animal.

Short, stocky legs, an almost short neck (compared to its distant descendant) and flattened woods fanned out like horns: this is what the giraffe’s old ancestor, the Sivatherium, might have looked like. No fewer than 26 fossil bones were used to reconstruct its skeleton, a photograph of which was published in the British Royal Society’s Biology Letters on Wednesday 13 January.

The challenge was taken up by researchers from the University of Liverpool and Royal Veterinary College of Hertfordshire, including Christophe Basu.

“We are missing the ribs, the back and the pelvis” to reconstitute the skeleton in its entirety, explains the scientist. The remains were discovered in India in the 1830s. At the time, paleontologists thought they had stumbled upon fossils of an elk measuring the size of an elephant, without going any further in their investigations.

“The animal we have reconstructed is 1.8 meters long at the shoulder,” says Basu. “We think the adult males were bigger, but we don’t know how much bigger. It was a heavy animal with thick legs and four horns on its head,” the two largest of which were at least 70 centimeters long, Basu describes. “It must have been an impressive animal,” he adds in an amused tone.

Olivier LEBLEU

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