Simply put, hoofed mammals have toes covered with a horny structure composed of keratin that helps them to run away from predators efficiently. Hooves, like the nails of primates, evolved from the keratinous claws of other mammals, such as cats and rodents. Like ballet dancers standing on point, these animals have their entire weight concentrated on their toes.
Hoofed mammals have traditionally been called ungulates (from the Latin ungula, "hoof'), a group that had a common origin sometime in the Late Cretaceous, 70-65 million years ago. Recent evidence that also places the nonhoofed Elephants, Hyraxes, and aardvarks in the Superorder Ungulata (as well as the aquatic Cetaceans and Sirenians derived from ungulates) makes it more convenient to group hoofed cryptids separately. Most are herbivorous.
The two major extant orders of hoofed mammals are:
(1) The Artiodactyla, the order of even-toed or cloven-hoofed animals that includes cattle, deer, antelopes, giraffes, pigs, hippos, and camels. First seen in the Early Eocene, 55 million years ago, they are characterized by their elongated third and fourth toes, which form the primary support for the limbs. The skulls of living artiodactyls are elaborately modified for defense, with canines, incisors, horns, and antlers.
(2) The Perissodactyla, the order of odd-toed animals, with the middle toe bearing the primary weight. These animals include horses, rhinos, tapirs, and the extinct chalicotheres and brontotheres. This group diversified in North America and Eurasia to become the most abundant herbivores between 55 and 25 million years ago. Extinct orders of hoofed mammals are the
embrithopods of Oligocene Africa, which included the rhinolike, twin-horned Arsi-noitherium; the notoungulates, South American ungulates that included the horse- or rhinolike toxodonts and the smaller typotheres; the litopterns, also endemic to South America, which incorporated the long-necked, camel-like macraucheniids; the uintatheres of North America and Asia, among them the huge Uin-tatherium, which had three pairs of bony swellings on its skull and powerful canine teeth; the carnivorous mesonychids such as An-drewsarchus that may have been ancestral to cetaceans; the astrapotheres, South American animals that resembled tapirs or rhinos; and the pyrotheres and xenungulates, little-known South American ungulates.
Of the thirty-eight mystery animals in this list, twenty seem related to pigs, hippos, camels, deer, antelopes, giraffes, or oxen; eleven can apparently be grouped with horses, rhinos, and tapirs; three may be surviving notoungulates; one could be a survival into historical times of a litoptern; and three are too problematic to classify.
Six are found in North America, six in South America, four in Europe, eight in Africa, twelve in Asia, and two in Australasia.
Mystery Hoofed Mammals
Australian Camel Catetu-Munde; Cam-elops; Cuino; EsakarPaki; Ethiopian Deer; Irish Deer; Mangarsahoc; Mangden; Mongolian Goat-Antelope; Muskox of Noyon Uul Persepols Beast; Pukau; Quang Khem; Schelch; Schomburgk's Deer; Sivathere of Kish; Spotted Bushbuck; Tsy-Acmby-Aomby; White Brocket Deer
Badak Tanggiling; Black Malayan Tapir; Blood-Sweatng Horse; Blue Horse; Emela-Ntouka; Jumar; One-Horned African Rhinoceros; Quagga; Tigelboat; Van Rccs-malen's Tapir; Web-Fccted Horse
Domenech's Pseudo-Goat; Miramar Tox-odont; Thunder Horse
Litopterns Five-Toed Llama
Devil Pig; Lascaux Unicorn; Wolf Deer Horn Head
A category of Sea Monster identified by Gary Mangiacopra.
Physical description: Long, round body. Length, 25-60 feet. Dark on top, underside lighter. Scales like a crocodile's. Flat, round head about 2 feet across. Horns. Two pairs of flippers. Sawlike projections on the back. Tail forked or tapering to a point.
Behavior: Seen with young. Spouts water. Distribution: North Atlantic Ocean. Significant sightings: On November 23, 1869, while 300 miles off the coast of New England, Captain Allen and the crew of the bark Scottish Bride watched a 25-foot-long animal with a large, flat head and thick scales like a crocodile's. A smaller animal, apparently a juvenile only a few feet long, accompanied the large one.
On June 26, 1904, passengers on the French Line steamer La Lorraine saw a huge animal that spouted, churned the water into a foam, and dived and resurfaced repeatedly for more than an hour about 560 miles off Brest, France. Its eyes were huge, it had horns about 20 inches in length, its head stood 12 feet out of the water, and one dorsal fin ran nearly the entire length of its back, which some estimated to be 150 feet long.
Possible explanation: Similar to Bernard Heuvelmans's Longneck.
Sources: "The Old 'Fishy' Story," New York Herald, November 30, 1869, p. 8; "Eyes as Big as Saucers," New York Tribune, July 2, 1904, p. 1; Gary S. Mangiacopra, "The Great Unknowns of the 19th Century," OfSea and Shore 8, no. 3 (Fall 1977): 175-178.
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