Suborder Deinotheroidea

Deinotheres were very large elephants with down-curving tusks in the lower jaw. They probably evolved in the Early Miocene in Africa but soon spread into central and southern Europe and southern Asia.

They thrived almost unchanged throughout the Pliocene but then retreated back to Africa. They vanished altogether about 2 million years ago.

name: Deinotherium time: Miocene to Pleistocene locality: Europe (Germany and Bohemia), Asia (India) and Africa (Kenya) size: 13 ft/4 m high

The most remarkable feature of this elephant was its tusks, the purpose of which is still debatable. There were no tusks in the upper jaw, but the lower jaw was curved downward at a right angle and gave rise to two huge curved tusks. Such a shape seemed so unlikely that when scientists in the 1820s attempted the first reconstructions of Deino-therium, they attached the jaw upside down. The animal may have used the tusks for stripping the bark from trees or digging up tubers.

Surviving almost unchanged for 20 million years, Deinotherium was clearly a very successful animal.

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