Fossils of prehistoric pig-like animals ID’d in Tennessee

This fossilized skeleton at the Austin Zoo (Texas) comes from a Mylohyus nasutus, who would have been a cousin to the Mylohyus elmorei. Photo by Reynosa Blogs, Tamaulipas, Mexico, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) – East Tennessee State University says its researchers have discovered fossils of two extinct prehistoric, pig-looking species that previously had never been found in the Appalachian region.

The university says the species of peccaries were identified in the fossil-rich clays of the Gray Fossil Site, once a large pond surrounded by forest dating back about 5 million years.

The species are Mylohyus elmorei, found only in one central Florida region, and Prosthennops serus, found in fossil sites around the U.S.

Chris Widga of the ETSU Museum of Natural History at the Gray Fossil Site said the peccaries’ teeth suggest they browsed leaves and fruits of succulent plants.

The university says peccaries are medium-sized omnivores with small tusks and live in the Americas. True pigs are native to Europe, Asia and Africa.

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