An interesting discovery was made at the Gray Fossil Site in Tennessee. Researchers discovered the fossils of two ancient species of peccary. The bones were found by a team from East Tennessee State University. The fossils belong to a Mylohyus elmorei and a Prosthennops serus. You can find the discovery published in journal PeerJ.
While this is not the first time researchers discover similar peccaries’ fossils, they have never been discovered in this area. Prosthennops serus was never found in the Appalachian region, despite fossils being discovered in other sites, while Mylohyus elmorei was only found in one central Florida region.
What are peccaries?
By looking at the images of the fossils you might believe that peccaries are pigs, but that is simply not true, despite the fact that they look similar. Pigs are native of Europe, Asia and Africa. Meanwhile the fossils discovered in Tennessee belong to peccaries.
Peccaries existed in the Americas and they belong to the Tayassuidae family. They are also known as javelinas or javelin and they were omnivorous mammals as well. It is believed that these animals were able to grow around the size of German shepherd.
“Details of the peccaries’ teeth suggest they spent their lives browsing on the leaves and fruits of succulent plants, so they would have been right at home in the Gray Fossil Site ecosystem, which we know from plant fossils was rich with tasty vegetation,” explained Dr. Chris Widga, head curator at the ETSU Museum of Natural History at the Gray Fossil Site.
Peccaries can still be found in modern day zoos. There are 16 North American zoos which have these animals, while they are considered endangered in South America. There are three living species of peccaries nowadays