Sivatherium ("Shiva's beast", from Shiva and therium, Latinized form of Ancient Greek θηρίον - thēríon) is an extinct genus of giraffids that ranged throughout Africa to the Indian subcontinent. The species Sivatherium giganteum is, by weight, the largest giraffid known, and also possibly the largest ruminant of all time. The Afro-Asiatic species, S. maurusium, was once placed within the genus "Libytherium".
|Skull of S. giganteum|
Falconer & Cautley, 1836
S. giganteum remains have been recovered from the Himalayan foothills, dating around 1 million years ago. S. maurusium may have gone extinct as recently as 8,000 years ago, as depictions that greatly resemble it are known from ancient rock paintings in the Sahara and Central West India.
Sivatherium resembled the modern okapi, but was far larger, and more heavily built, being about 2.2 m (7.2 ft) tall at the shoulder, 3 m (9.8 ft) in total height with a weight up to 400–500 kg (880–1,100 lb). A newer estimate has come up with an estimated body mass of about 1,250 kg (2,760 lb). This would make Sivatherium one of the largest known ruminants, rivalling the modern giraffe and the largest bovines. This weight estimate is thought to be an underestimate, as it does not take into account the large horns possessed by males of the species. Sivatherium had a wide, antler-like pair of ossicones on its head, and a second pair of ossicones above its eyes. Its shoulders were very powerful to support the neck muscles required to lift the heavy skull.
- Sivatherium in the Paleobiology Database
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- Basu, Christopher; Falkingham, Peter L.; Hutchinson, John R. (January 2016). "The extinct, giant giraffid Sivatherium giganteum: skeletal reconstruction and body mass estimation". Biology Letters. 12 (1): 20150940. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0940. PMC 4785933. PMID 26763212.
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