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Jennifer Tang


By: Jennifer Tang

Stenomylus, the given scientific name of this herbivore, means narrow tooth. Remains of this animal were first found at Agate Springs National Monument in Nebraska, an area where dune fields extend widely. Paleontologists such as R.L. Moodie who collected the fossils in 1908 believe that it died off in huge numbers during a drought approximately twenty millions years ago and that its evolutionary line died out by the end of the Pleistocene epoch in North America. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has 1600 stenomylus bones on display, a total of about nine skeletons.

The stenomylus is thought to be the ancestor of the camel, a mammal found in Africa, Asia and South America. Although the camel is fairly tall, indications are that the stenomylus was only three feet in height. Because of this shorter height, many paleontologists believe it is related to llamoids and deer.

The stenomylus' features include a fat-filled hump, long eyelashes, busy eyebrows, a long tail and two-toed feet. It also had a second lump small in size, long eyelashes, a short tail and high crowned teeth. Its long limbs and chitinous hoofs adapted for greater running speed enabled it to run extremely fast.

The stenomylus remains, discovered in 1907 and collected a year later, were abundant in specific areas of Agate Springs, Nebraska. "Likely to yield hundreds of articulated skeletons if worked deep enough," is how W.D. Matthews described the find. The discovery of the stenomylus is one of many scientific findings that have changed the mammal evolutionary line.