Name Meaning: Peak Tooth
Geologic Era: Late Paleocene to Eocene
Location Discovered: Wyoming
Size: 1 meter tall, 2 meters long, around 1,100 pounds
Range: North America, Europe, Asia (concentrated in North America)
Extinction: Middle Eocene
Shown below is a partial tooth from Coryphodon, an pantodont mammal.
Coryphodon and the other pantodonts were one of the first groups of mammals to evolve large size following the extinction of the dinosaurs. The tooth is not completely intact, but still good sized. This tooth would have been a incisor, meaning it would have come from the front of the mouth.
While Coryphodon was relatively small for a pantodont, it was still big enough that an adult probably had real issues with predators. All of the terrestrial predators of the time were much smaller than Coryphodon, and would not have posed much of a problem. Coryphodon did share it’s environment with some respectably sized crocodilians, however. Given that Coryphodon had an aquatic lifestyle similar to that of a modern hippopotamus, a large crocodile could have been a threat, especially to a smaller animal. Two “morphs” of Coryphodon have been found, one smaller, and the other larger and more robust, with much bigger canine tusks. If these animals followed the pattern of sexual dimorphism for most mammals, the smaller morph is probably the female, and the larger the male.
Coryphodon had an extensive range in North America, reaching all the way up to the Arctic Circle. That area of the world has periods of sunlight for days on end, followed by weeks of darkness in the winter. Analysis of Coryphodon bones suggest that, unlike many modern mammals, they did not migrate to adjust for the differences in feed available at different times of the year. They simply adjusted the types of feed consumed, from leaves and plants in the warmer seasons, to twigs, conifer needles, and fungus when no light was available. For all this adaptive ability, Coryphodon and the pantodonts leave no living descendants, with the last of the pantodonts going extinct in the Miocene.
Skeleton: By H. F. Osborn. – http://www.copyrightexpired.com/earlyimage/bones/large/display_osborn_coryphodon.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4329219
Life Restoration: By Charles R. Knight – http://paleo.amnh.org/artwork/knight/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7952014