views updated

Palaeodonta (superorder Paraxonia, order Artiodactyla) An extinct suborder of small animals which lived during the Eocene and early Oligocene, mainly in N. America, and are classed as artiodactyls because of the modification of the astragalus to typical artiodactyl form. Otherwise they had departed little from the original eutherian stock. Most were short-legged, had four digits on each limb, and were neither ruminants nor entirely piglike. The earlier forms may be the true ancestors of later artiodactyls, but the later forms left no descendants.