Prehistoric Arctic ‘hippo’ teeth offer clues to mammal evolution

Montreal Gazette – An analysis of the 53-million-year-old fossilized teeth of huge, hippo-like animals found on Canada’s once-temperate Ellesmere Island has produced what scientists are calling a “smoking gun” discovery about the migration and evolution of large mammals in ancient North America. Researchers have long known that Canada’s northernmost Arctic islands were once relatively warm, lush environments inhabited by alligators and other creatures associated today with southerly latitudes. But the latest findings, according to Canadian and U.S. researchers who’ve published a study in the latest issue of the journal Geology, shed new light on the diets and movements of Arctic animals in the post-dinosaur age and “may provide the behavioural smoking gun for how modern groups of mammals like ungulates — ancestors of today’s horses and cattle — and true primates arrived in North America.”

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