Joshua Ludtke is a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary in Canada. His current research focuses on the comparative anatomy of the petrosal (ear bone) of several extinct artiodactyls, even-toed hoofed mammals. His earlier research has included work on the systematics and taxonomy of some groups of extinct artiodactyls and the study of ancient magnetic-field polarity to help to calibrate the age of some fossil localities in the western United States. Joshua has had an interest in the prehistoric world since he was at least five, and after growing up in a part of the United States east of the Mississippi, where fossils are almost all either Palaeozoic or Quaternary, he has been excited to live west of the Mississippi, where the Mesozoic and, more excitingly (sorry!), the Palaeogene and Neogene are exposed. He looks forward to naming some species of agriochoerid oreodonts, and hopes that these names will not be sunk by future oreodont researchers.
Joshua Ludtke, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
by Joshua Ludtke*1
Oreodonts make up an extinct group of small, medium and large hoofed mammals. They are among the most commonly represented mammals in more than 40 million years of the North American fossil record; among completely extinct groups, the oreodonts may be the most abundantly preserved group of fossil mammals. This abundance has allowed them, after their extinction, to spread across the globe. Since at least the 1840s, fossil collectors from around the world have visited the North American west to excavate oreodonts, and their fossils have ended up in both public museums and private collections worldwide (see Fig. 1).
What is an oreodont?
Oreodont is the informal term for any member of the taxon Merycoidodontoidea. Oreodonts are placental mammals; some f...