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Taubatherium paulacoutoi

An old mammal from Taubaté

Complete reconstruction of T. paulacoutoi skeleton, on display in the city of Taubaté

Graziella do Couto RibeiroComplete reconstruction of T. paulacoutoi skeleton, on display in the city of TaubatéGraziella do Couto Ribeiro

Taubatherium paulacoutoi lived 23 to 24 million years ago in the area now occupied by the Tremembé Formation in the Taubaté Basin, on the São Paulo State side of the Paraíba Valley.  The now-extinct mammal was thoroughly studied by paleontologist Graziella do Couto Ribeiro while pursuing her doctorate, defended in September 2015 at the Biosciences Institute of the University of São Paulo (IB-USP).  Based on an analysis of 490 teeth and bones from several specimens of the species, whose fossils were first discovered in the 1970s by paleontologist Herculano Alvarenga, Ribeiro completed an anatomic and comparative description of the animal’s skeleton.  The study revealed that T. paulacoutoi, which belonged to the extinct ungulate family Leontiniidae, was approximately 1.80 meter long and 80 centimeters tall, and weighed between 280 and 350 kilograms.  This means that its body size and weight made it comparable to modern species of equids (horses, donkeys and zebras).  “These characteristics support the hypothesis that it was a herbivore of gregarious habits, living in herds at the edge of a paleolake,” says the researcher.  The study also permitted the first reconstruction of a complete skeleton of the species, now on display at the Taubaté Museum of Natural History (MHNT), founded and chaired by Alvarenga and where Ribeiro works as a researcher.  T. paulacoutoi is part of the extinct mammal fauna of the Taubaté Basin, which included a number of endemic species.