Oreodonts now more properly called Merycoidodont, sometimes called (ruminating hogs), and are an extinct superfamily of prehistoric cud-chewing artiodactyls with short faces and fang-like canine teeth. As their name implies, some of the better known forms were generally hog-like, and the group was once thought to be a member of Suina, the pigs, peccaries and their ancestors, though recent work indicates they were more closely related to camels. (Oreodont means mountain teeth), referring to the appearance of the molars. Most oreodonts were sheep-sized, though some genera grew to the size of cattle. They were heavy-bodied, with short four-toed hooves and comparatively long tails.
The animals would have looked rather pig- or sheep-like, but features of their teeth indicate they were more closely related to camelids. They were most likely woodland and grassland browsers, and were widespread in North America during the Oligocene and Miocene. Later forms diversified to suit a range of different habitats
The two families of oreodonts are the Merycoidodontidae (originally known as Oreodontidae) which contains all of the advanced species, and the Agriochoeridae, smaller, primitive oreodonts. Over 50 genera of Oreodonta have been described in the paleontological literature. However, oreodonts are widely considered to be taxonomically over-split, and many of these genera may prove to be synonymous
Today, fossil jaws and teeth of the Oreodonta are commonly found amid the Oreodon beds (White River fauna) of the White River badlands in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Many oreodont bones have also been reported at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. Some oreodonts have been found at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.
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