Girish Mahajan (Editor)


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Kingdom  Animalia
Infraorder  Tragulina
Rank  Family
Class  Mammalia
Phylum  Chordata
Order  Even-toed ungulate
Protoceratidae httpsferrebeekeeperfileswordpresscom201601
Similar  Even‑toed ungulate, Synthetoceras, Protoceras, Syndyoceras, Xiphodontidae

Protoceratidae is an extinct family of herbivorous North American artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates) that lived during the Eocene through Pliocene at around 46.2—4.9 Mya, existing for about 41 million years.



Protoceratidae was erected by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1891, with the type genus Protoceras and assigned to the Artiodactyla. It was later assigned to Pecora, and more recently to Ruminantia or Tylopoda. Within the Artiodactyla, protoceratids are usually considered to be related to giraffids. However, recently a relationship to chevrotains in the infraorder Tragulina has been proposed.


When alive, protoceratids would have probably resembled deer, though they were not directly related. Protoceratids ranged from 1 to 2 m in length, from about the size of a roe deer to an elk. Unlike many modern ungulates, they lacked cannon bones in their legs. Their dentition was similar to that of modern deer and cattle, suggesting they fed on tough grasses and similar foods, with a complex stomach similar to that of camels. At least some forms are believed to have lived in herds.

The most dramatic feature of the protoceratids, however, were the horns of the males. In addition to having horns in the more usual place, protoceratids had additional, rostral horns above their noses. These horns were either paired, as in Syndyoceras, or fused at the base, and branching into two near the tip, as in Synthetoceras. In life, the horns were probably covered with skin, much like the ossicones of a giraffe. The females were either hornless, or had far smaller horns than the males. Horns were therefore probably used in sexual display or competition for mates. In later forms, the horns were large enough to have been used in sparring between males, much as with the antlers of some modern deer.


  • Heteromeryx
  • Leptoreodon
  • Leptotragulus
  • Poabromylus
  • Pseudoprotoceras
  • Toromeryx
  • Trigenicus
  • Oligocene

  • Protoceras
  • Miocene

  • Paratoceras
  • Lambdoceras
  • Prosynthetoceras
  • Synthetoceras
  • Syndyoceras
  • Pliocene

  • Kyptoceras
  • References

    Protoceratidae Wikipedia