Visiting Badlands National Park is like stepping off onto another planet, especially since its topography so different than the surrounding Dakota plains. Like all National Parks, it’s striking to behold and an amazing locale for recreational hikes and photography. It’s also the location of the largest accumulation of mammal fossils from the Eocene and Oligocene Epochs. Back then, North America was a lot like how we view Africa today; with prehistoric versions of rhinoceros, elephant, camels, lions, and sloths to name but a few. The Badlands offers paleontologists a snapshot of what their world was like.
I just returned from visiting the Dakotas while making a few Prehistoric Pit Stops along the way. Ironically, a couple of those excursions tied in with a figure I’d just received before I left – CollectA’s Megacerops. This model is part of their Prehistoric Life Collection and, just like their Deinotherium model I reviewed in my last post, breaks the mold in terms of scientific accuracy! Whereas the previous figure depicted a relative of the modern day elephant, this two-toed ungulate was a member of the Titanothere family which shares ancestry with today’s horses, tapirs, and rhinos. It definitely looks like a rhinoceros cousin with its double horns though, unlike rhinos, these are part of the animal’s skull and “true” horns. Their unique appearance illustrates once again how diverse and amazing our planet’s prehistoric mammals truly were.