Lucas, Spencer G. New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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An extinct order of relatively large placental mammals represented by Paleocene-Eocene fossils from western Europe, North America, and eastern Asia. Pantodonts were an early evolutionary experiment in large-bodied herbivory by primitive placental mammals. They first appeared in Asia during the early Paleocene and disappeared during the middle Eocene, leaving no descendants. With the possible exception of the most primitive pantodonts, all were herbivores, and pantodonts were either the largest or among the largest mammals of their time. The adaptive radiation of pantodonts was diverse and encompassed mammals as different as small [1 kg (2 lb) or less in body mass], arboreal herbivores (Asian Archaeolambda), and large [650 kg (1430 lb)], ground-sloth-like, terrestrial herbivores (North American Barylambda). See also: Eocene; Paleocene
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