With web support by Julie Shimon
If you saw these animals in real life out on a hike which one would you be more frightened of?
|Figure 1. Uintahtherium skull|
|Figure 2. Smilodon skull|
How wrong I was. She told me all about them. On the Uintatherium (figure 1) the canines were the obvious thing I looked at. I think they like to trick people because the skull of Smilodon fatalis is hanging just above it on the wall. But when you take a closer look they are actually very different.
|Figure 3. Another view of a Uintahtherium skull|
|Figure 4. Front view of a Smilodon fatalis skull|
It’s funny the museum had these on display together because not only are they entirely different animals but they also lived millions of years apart. Uintatherium (Beast of the Uinta) lived in the Eocene Epoch and went extinct 37 million years ago, probably due to climate change. They have been found only in Wyoming and Utah near the Uinta Mountains, which they are named for (“Wikipedia”, 2011). I think they didn’t have to roam far to feed because they ate all sorts of land and aquatic plants. They are similar in size and shape to a rhinoceros but not related at all. Modern rhinos weigh from 1,900-7,700 lbs which is a LOT more than Smilodon, and Uintatherium was probably similar in weight to the rhino (“Wikipedia”, 2012).
So why do they have those long canines? Maybe they were used to defend themselves but it was also suggested they used them to scoop plants from the marshes to feed on (“Wikipedia”, 2011). We might never know.
|Figure 5. Artist's rendition of the Uintahtherium|
|Figure 6. Artist's rendition of S. fatalis|
I have definitely decided that if I were to meet these creatures on a hike that I’d rather run into Uintatherium. He definitely wouldn’t try to eat me although that large skull still looks very scary.
Note: author's bio follows references. Jack Shimon is a frequent contributor of papers, poems, articles, and monographs on geoscience subjects.
Interview by JS Shimon [Audio Tape Recording]. Museum tour. , Retrieved from http://www.mnhm.org/
Wikipedia. (2011, December 26). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uintatherium
Wikipedia. (2012, February 22). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinoceros
Wikipedia. (2012, February 15.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilodon