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Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins$
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Charles R., Jr. Ault

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704673

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704673.001.0001

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Femurs and Footprints

Femurs and Footprints

On the Trail of Megabeasts

(p.185) Epilogue Femurs and Footprints
Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins

Charles R. Ault

Cornell University Press

In this epilogue, the author reflects on his journey to Argentina in 2003 to join his son on the trail of Charles Darwin's megabeasts. Darwin reveled in the extinct megabeasts of South America, creatures that burst open his imagination. From the cliffs at Punta Alta, the riverbanks of the Argentine pampas, and the terraces of Patagonia, Darwin dug from the ground skulls, claws, and teeth. Among his most remarkable finds are four giant ground sloths: Scelidotherium, Mylodon, Glossotherium, and Megalonyx. His other discoveries include the Toxodon, Macrauchenia, Glyptodon, Megatherium, and Scelidotherium. The author recounts how he and his group hoped to find the footprints, if not bones, of the extinct beasts discovered by Darwin. He explains how fossil footprints and fossil skeletons offer a window into the evolution of life: the first creatures to walk on land, whales strolling to the sea, the first birds, the origins of people.

Keywords:   evolution, Argentina, Charles Darwin, megabeasts, sloths, Megatherium, Scelidotherium, fossil footprints, fossil skeletons, Toxodon

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