The New International Encyclopædia/Dinotherium

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DI′NOTHE′RIUM (Neo-Lat., from Gk. δεινός, deinos, terrible + θηρίον, thērion, beast, diminutive of θήρ, thēr, wild beast). A genus of fossil proboscideans allied to the modern elephant and the extinct mastodon and of which fragmentary remains have been found in the Miocene and Pliocene rocks of Europe. No complete skeleton has yet been found. The skull, which is essentially elephantine, is longer, lower, and tapers more in front than does that of the modern elephant. The structure of the nasal bones and of the front of the cranium indicates that the animal had a proboscis, which was not, however, so prominent an organ of prehension as is that of the elephant. The molar teeth resemble those of the mastodon in structure, though they are smaller and have fewer transverse ridges on the crowns. The upper incisors, which attain to such great developments of tusks in the mastodon and elephant, are absent in the dinotherium, but the lower incisors, together with the fused ends of the mandibles, are turned downward and backward to form a pair of strong tusks, comparable with, though not at all analogous to, those of the walrus. The bones which have been found associated with these dinotherium skulls, and which probably belong to individuals of the same genus, are of massive build like those of other proboscidea, and indicate that the dinotherium lived in about the same habitats of dense forests with soft yielding ground as do the modern elephants, and that it was not an amphibious animal, as was for a long time supposed. The largest species of dinotherium lived in Pliocene time and rivaled in size the mastodon and mammoth. The skulls of this genus are found quite abundantly in the Miocene deposits of central Europe, in the Lower Pliocene of India and the Upper Pliocene of Greece, and are often associated with remains of the rhinoceros. No dinotherium remains have yet been found in America. See Elephant; Mammoth; Mastodon.