Extinct Large-Headed Llama, Hemiauchenia macrocephalus
February 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.

(Cui et al 2007) (Dalquest 1991) (Honey et al 1998)(Janis et al 2002) (McKenna and Bell 1997) (Scherer 2007) (Webb 1977)
(Webb et al 2006)

Describer (Date): Cope 1893

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Order: Artiodactyla (pigs, camels, deer, giraffes, cattle, and their kin)
                Superfamily: Cameloidea
                    Family: Camelidae
                          Subfamily: Camelinae
                              Tribe Lamini (includes extinct genera plus modern llamas, vicunas, guanacos)
                                    Genus: Hemiauchenia
                                          Species: Hemiauchenia macrocephala - Extinct Large-headed or Stilt-legged Camel
                                          Species: Hemiauchenia blancoensis
                                          Species: Hemiauchenia vera
                                          Species: Hemiauchenia paradoxa
                              Tribe: Camelini (extinct genera plus modern dromedary and bactrian camels)                                 

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.

(Scherer et al 2007) (Honey et al 1998) (Webb et al 2006)

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.

(Shaw 2001) (Janis et al 2002)
(Shaw 2001)(Webb 2006)

Estimated Body Weight: 300 kg (661 lbs)
Estimated Height at Shoulder: 2 m (6.5 ft)
Tail Length: A short tail

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.

(Janis et al 2002)
(Webb 2006)

Social Life
Interspecies Interaction

  • Several species of camels co-existed with Hemiauchenia, each most likely feeding in different places or on different plants. (Webb 2006)

    *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.

    (Dompierre & Churcher 1996) (Feranec 2003) (Webb 2006)

    *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.

    (Feranec 2002)

    Life Stages

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

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

    ©2009 San Diego Zoo Global. Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to library@sandiegozoo.org.

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