Charles Robert Darwin is considered to be the father of the evolutionary thought. However, the limited means of his époque impaired him from finding solutions to some riddles from the biological realm. One of them regards the most curious animal on the planet, namely Macrauchenia Patahonica. Researchers couldn’t find any existing family of animals on this planet to which this species belonged. However, today’s DNA breakthroughs managed to answer this question with ease.
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle Dates Back from the Ice Age
A new study appeared in the journal Nature Communications and might have just discovered a missing piece in the puzzle of biology. The findings concern the mysterious descent of an odd looking animal. This is about Macrauchenia Patahonica that lived during the last ice age period. Its appearance starts from that of a camel that lacks its hump, yet its long neck reminds of a llama. On top of that, its nose is actually a short trunk.
This appearance is unusual for a quadruped. Charles Darwin was the first to find the fossils of such a specimen together with other members of the so-called “South American native ungulates” category. However, he failed to track down the family this animal belongs to. On the other hand, the new findings used a 2015 collagen study which depended on a mitochondrial DNA extraction to solve the case.
DNA Breakthroughs Found Macrauchenia Patahonica a Family
Thanks to these DNA breakthroughs, scientists managed to identify the origin of the Macrauchenia Patahonica without any surviving close relative in today’s world. The odd animal actually belongs to a group that consists of rhinos, horses, and tapirs called Perissodactyla. However, the family split in two 66 million years ago. This moment coincides with a mass extinction caused by an asteroid collision with Earth.
Based on these new insights, scientists are stepping closer to the completion of the tree of life. Moreover, they can now assess why the animal looks the way it does and what the functions of its peculiarities were.
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