Fossil Friday – peccary molar

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The Pleistocene megafauna from Diamond Valley Lake is dominated by a few prominent groups such as horses, bison, and mastodons. But there were a lot of species of mammals in the valley that are represented by only a limited number of fossil specimens. One of these rare types is the peccary, Platygonus.

Peccaries, or javelinas, are artiodactyls that are sometimes referred to as “New World pigs”. In fact, they are placed in their own family, the Tayassuidae, separate from domestic pigs and other Old World pigs (Family Suidae). Peccaries still live in Central and South America, and one species, the collared peccary, can still be found in the southwestern United States (the example below is at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha):

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Peccaries were much more diverse and widespread in North America during the Pleistocene, and several different genera are known from the fossil record. Various species of the extinct genus Platygonus have been found all over the United States (the skeleton below was on display at the Smithsonian Institution):

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The Platygonus tooth shown at the top is an upper molar, probably the upper right first molar. It’s only lightly worn, as is clear in lateral view:

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This tooth was found near the east dam of Diamond Valley Lake, not far from where the museum is located.

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