In an exciting discovery, researchers with East Tennessee State University (ETSU) have recently confirmed the prehistoric fossils found in an area called Gray Fossil Site belonging to two different species of ancient peccaries,
Fossils , including part of a well-preserved skull, confirms that two species of peccaries ̵
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While one of the two species, Prosthennop's serus, had previously been found in other fossil sites in the United States, it has never been found in the Appalachian region. And the other, Mylohyus elmorei, has "just been found in a region of central Florida, more than 900 miles south," the university says.
Scientists were able to identify these prehistoric species thanks to "well-preserved remnants of their skulls", which included "almost complete lower jaws of both species".
Both Prosthennop's serus and Mylohyus elmorei would probably have been a German shepherd, which researchers noted are larger than today's modern peccaries.
"Details of the peccary's teeth indicate that they spent their lives browsing the leaves and fruits of succulent plants, so they would have been really at home in the fossil scene ecosystem, which we know from plant fossils were rich with good vegetation," Chris Widga, the main consultant at the ETSU Natural History Museum on the Gray Fossil Site – who once was "a large pond surrounded by a lush forest", said in a statement.
While Pec caries may resemble pigs, they are not members of the pig family, according to the university.
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"True pigs, members of the Suidae family, are native to Europe, Asia and Africa, while peccaries belong to the Tayassuidae family and live in America "explained the university.
The gray fossil site – containing "fossil rich clays" and preserving "an old ecosystem dating back about 5 million years", according to ETSU, was also home to ancient rhinos, tapirs, mastodons, alligators and beyond once.