Ancient Giraffe Relative: Thick Legs And Curly Horns

First Posted: Jan 13, 2016 10:58 AM EST

Researchers have reconstructed the skeleton of an ancient giraffe relative that was a huge, heavy animal with thick legs and a flat face. The ancient giraffe also had large curly horns growing out of it skull and it was identified as 'Sivatherium giganteum,' which roamed the land masses between the last five million and 12,000 years, according to this latest study.

"This was a heavy animal with thick legs. It would have been an impressive and strong animal. It's face would have looked very different from a giraffe," Christopher Basu, coauthor of the study said, according to a news release. "Giraffe's have very long, pointed skulls. Sivatherium had a very short, flattened skull."

'Sivatherium giganteum' was a unique animal that was shorter than a modern giraffe and had a less elongated neck. The researchers used bone fragments, which were dug up in India during the 1830's. These bones are now in the London's Natural History Museum, which they researchers used to create a computerized 3-D model reconstruction of the ancient giraffe relative. The researchers believe that the creature was about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) tall around its shoulder and it weighed about 1.2 tons.

'Sivatherium giganteum's' flattened horns were 70 centimeters (28 inches) long. The creature also had two additional, but smaller, pointed horns over its eyes. 'Sivatherium' was most likely one of the largest ruminant animals with a multi-compartmented stomach that has ever lived, according to the study.

The researchers reconstructed a skeleton where they used 26 fossilized bones from three individual animals. The back, pelvis and ribs were missing.

"We estimated what these might look like from giraffe and okapi anatomy, the two living relatives," Basu said.

The findings of this study were published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

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