Tennessee is one of the 50 states of the United States of America situated on the south-eastern plains. Before this region became an official state in 1796, Tennessee was initially a part of North Carolina. Tennessee has a massive economy, friendly people, and unique geography. Also, it has a total land area of 42,000 square miles, making it the 36th largest state. In addition, Tennessee is ranked as the 16th most populous state in the United States.
The plains of Tennessee were known to be a habitat for numerous animals before their extinction. Check out the list of 6 animal species that used to live in Tennessee.
1. Dire Wolf
|Living Period||125,000–9,500 years ago|
The dire wolf is an extinct canine once famous in North America. Dire wolves once lived in America and eastern Asia and competed with Smilodon for food. They were named ‘dire wolf’ in 1858 after scientists discovered their fossils. They have been known to love several habitats, which include plains, grasslands, and mountains.
The dire wolf has several similarities with the North American grey wolves. Dire wolves were estimated to have a body length of 69 inches and weighed 200 lbs, similar to the largest grey wolf. However, dire wolves had larger teeth, better shearing ability, and stronger bite force. They were known to prey on other smaller herbivores like rabbits and bigger herbivores like giant sloths.
2. Bison latifrons
|Extinct since||20,000 to 30,000 years|
Bison latifrons was a giant long-horned bison that lived in North America during the Pleistocene era. It was the largest mammal to ever live in North America, larger than today’s bison. This species thrived for over 200,000 years before their population began to decline at the beginning of the glacial age. Although there is little to know about the bison, as their only surviving remains were their skulls and horns, experts believe their legs and bones constituted about 30% of the entire bison.
From the estimated dimension of the Bison latifrons, we can safely conclude that this species is larger than the American and European bison. The bison was estimated to be around 15.6 ft in length and 7.5 ft in height. They also weighed between 2,760 and 4,400 lbs, making them one of the largest ruminants in the prehistoric era.
3. Long-legged llamas (Palaeolama)
|Long-legged llamas (Palaeolama)|
Palaeolama is an ancient long-legged llama that existed from the Late Pliocene to the Early Holocene. This species is said to have lived between North America and South America’s intertropical regions. Although there was little proof of the existence of these llamas, fossil evidence shows they had a slender head, stocky legs, and an elongated stout body, which is not so different from today’s llamas. They are herbivores and depend mainly on trees and leaves for sustenance.
You will have to study the dental morphology of Paleaolama to differentiate them easily from other laminae. Their dental morphology shows they have a more dorsoventral mandible, distinguishing them from other laminae. Also, Paleaolama does not have a second decidous premolar. They have metapodial limbs built to be short, thick, and firm for walking on uneven lands and running away from predators.
Their extinction is believed to be due to the decline in their food, climatic change, and human poaching.
4. Pleistocene Megafauna (Megalonyx)
|Pleistocene Megafauna (Megalonyx)|
|Type Species||Megalonyx jeffersonii|
Megalonyx is a Greek word that means “large claws.” Thomas Jefferson gave the name to this extinct species of ground sloth in 1797.
Megalonyx is descended from Pliometanastes, a genus of ground sloth that once strode the lands of North America. When standing on its hind limbs, an adult Megalonyx can reach a height of 9.8 feet and weigh over 2,200 pounds. There were also medium-sized sloths that were smaller and weighed less.
Like preceding sloths, they follow the same physiological pattern by having a blunt snout, massive jaws, and large teeth. Since they are plantigrades, they can stand upright to feed on nearby leaves and trees. Their forelimbs are designed with three claws that help them tear leaves to sustain their nutrition.
Before their extinction, the Megalonyx was widely seen in Tennessee and northern Alaska.
5. Eastern Elk
The eastern elk is an extinct elk species that once inhabited the northern and eastern lands of the United States and the southern region of Canada. The last elk on earth was shot in Pennsylvania on September 1, 1877, and was therefore declared extinct by the United States Wildlife Service three years later.
The eastern elk was seen predominantly at the beginning of the European colonization of the Americans and the American Revolution. They were majorly on the plains of North America and also resided in another continent’s woodlands. As human progression advanced, the once bubbling population of the eastern elk began to decline steelily due to over-hunting and humans’ excessive dependence on their meat and hide.
An adult bull could weigh up to 1000 pounds and be 50 to 60 inches tall. Their distinctive feature was their long antlers that could grow as long as 6 feet.
6. Short-faced Bear
|Type Species||Arctodus pristinus|
|Extinct since||12,000 years ago.|
The short-faced bear is an extinct bear that once roamed Northern America. They are considered large omnivores and were once believed to be one of the largest known terrestrial mammalian carnivorans that lived in America.
In appearance, they were sexually dimorphic like other bear species, and an average male short-faced bear weighed up to 2,000 lbs. In height, they stood as high as 8-10 ft, which is way above the average adult human size.
According to numerous isotopic studies, the short-faced bear fed mainly on vegetation and occasionally ate animals like deer.
The extinction of the short-faced bear can be traced to the Quaternary extinction that took alongside numerous predators, vegetation, and prey. More studies show that humans most likely contributed to their extinction as they were hunted down regularly for their fur, while some experts claim it was the rapid decline of their food and vegetation.
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