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Leptomeryx Jaw fragments range from 1- 2.5 cm long.
What Were Leptomeryx?
This is Leptomeryx, a remarkable fossil found within the White River Formation in Custer County, South Dakota. These animals flourished during the Oligocene era, with their existence recorded within the layers of both the Chadron and Brule members, spanning an astonishing 30 to 33 million years in the past.
Now, imagine a creature resembling a diminutive horse, yet with a peculiar and primitive adaptation that sets it apart from modern equines. Instead of the familiar symmetry of hooves, picture Leptomeryx with four toes on its forelegs and just two on its hind legs—a distinctive adaptation that stands as a testament to the curious ways of ancient life and evolution.
Leptomeryx, was an ancestral precursor to today's "Pecora" superfamily, which boasts an impressive lineage encompassing deer, goats, giraffes, cattle, and antelope. These ancient inhabitants thrived in environments that mirror today's sprawling savannas, and their fossils are abundant treasures within the White River Formation.