Extinct North American Critters
Who Are Fun To Know
Diatryma - a small bird (a rail) flew into North America soon after the dinosaur extinction. Its descendants took advantage of the fact that all the big land carnivores were gone by evolving into a 9-foot-tall meat-eating bird. Diatryma evolved in North America 63 million years ago, soon spread into Europe, then went extinct everywhere around 55 million years ago.
Brontotheres - Squirrel-size mammals evolved into some of the biggest land mammals of all time: brontotheres and the very similar titantotheres and uintatheres. The first of these creatures evolved in Asia, but soon spread to North America, where they thrived from 54 million to 22 million years ago.
Chalicothere - This strange mammal was a large plant-eater, but with claws! Evolving elsewhere, then becoming bundant in North America during the Oligocene and Miocene.
Oreodont - Small, sheeplike creatures that were abundant good food for carnivores from 35 to 20 million years ago. They evolved in North America and never spread beyond this continent (hence the turquoise circle).
Entelodont - Piglike creatures not directly related to pigs, and which grew to sizes as large as a big bull. They immigrated into North America from Asia 30 million years ago, going extinct just 10 million years ago.
NOTE: Connie Barlow has used this chart with kids and adults, in telling the 65 million year story of the North American continent. For playful ways to learn this story, see 4 different versions of the experiential process, "Coming Home to North America".
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