Pinckney's Capybara, Neochoerus pinckneyi
April 2009

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*How Do We Know This? Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals are
classified and grouped according to their relationships to each other and to their ancestors.

Casteñada & Miller 2004) (Deschamps et al 2007) (Deméré 2006) (Flynn et al 2005) (Kaspar & McClure 1976) (Kurtén 1980) (McKenna & Bell 1997) (Mones & Ojasti 1986) (Prado et al 1998) (Rowe & Honeycutt 2002) (Wyss et al 1993)

Describer (Date): Neochoerus - Hay 1926 
Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Order: Rodentia
                    Family: Hydrochoeridae (capybara family)
                          Subfamily: Hydrochoerinae
                                   Genus: Neochoerus
                                         Species: Neochoerus
pinckneyi - extinct Pinckney's Capybara
                                    Genus: Hydrochaeris - Brunnich 1772
                                         Species: Hydrochaeris holmesi - extinct Holmes' capybara
                                         Species: Hydrochaeris gaylordi - extinct Gaylord's capybara
                                         Species: Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris - capybara (living)
                                         Species: ? Hydrochaeris isthmius -Panama capybara (living)
Taxonomic History and Nomenclature


*How Do We Know This? Scientists use knowledge of the earth's rocks, global plate tectonic movements,
and the chemical process of fossilization to make sense of fossil distribution patterns and ancient habitats.

(Casteñada & Miller 2004) (Deméré 2006) (Flynn et al 2005) (Kurtén 1980)

Prehistoric Distribution:

*How Do We Know This? Careful study of fossil bone or tooth anatomy yields much exact information
about placement and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
In rare cases, skin and hair impressions or actual skin or hair is preserved.
Body weight is more difficult to gauge because fat leaves no impression on the skeleton.

(Kurtén 1988) (Kurtén and Anderson 1980) (Macdonald & Herrera 2001) (Mones & Ojasti 1986)

Estimated Body Weight:
                     Neochoerus pinckneyi: about 33% larger than modern capybara which weighs 48.9 kg (108 lb)      
Estimated Head/Body Length:
                     Neochoerus pinckneyi: around 180 cm (6 ft)

Tail Length: Capybaras have vestigal tails.

General Description
Teeth   Pelage   Sexual Dimorphism Other Physical Characteristics

*How Do We Know This? Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists
use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes reveal further clues.

(Herrera & Macdonald 1989, 1993)

Social Life

Interspecies Interaction

*How Do We Know This? Clues to fossil mammals' diets come from teeth,skull shape,
from fossil dung and gut contents, from lab analysis of oxygen isotopes in bone and teeth,
and by looking at diets of similar modern animals.

(Koenigswald et al 1999) (MacFadden 1997)

*How do We Know This? Isotope studies of elements present fossil bones and tusks
in microscopic quantities give information about timing of reproductive stress, and timing of nursing.
Clues to stages of development come from tooth replacement patterns and closure of sutures
in skull and limb bones.

Life Stages

*How do We Know This? Abnormalities in fossil bones may show
evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.

Important Web Resources (including where to view fossils in museums):

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