7/21/21 – Megalovis, yet another enigmatic Cenozoic bovid

Tony used to pose precariously next to 1,000-lb antelopes. Credit: me; Mr. Stark PNG courtesy of Fictional Characters Database

Obscure paleofauna are rad! One particularly obscure one that’s been nagging me for some time now is the Plio-Pleistocene genus Megalovis, represented by the sole species M. latifrons. These big guys are only known from a single pair of fragmented horns – that’s…that’s it.

What big-ish horns you have. Credit: Bechev & Georgiev, 2016

So what’s to say about Megalovis? Well….not a whole lot, I’m afraid. The reconstruction above is largely speculative. I based the dimensions off of those suggested by TwilightBeasts’ fantastic blog post on the same subject, who (based on scaling up the remains with those of other bovids) speculated the critter to weigh around the same as a musk-ox – a large Arctic relative of the goat to whom Megalovis is related.

Judging by its placement within Ovibovini, I reconstructed Megalovis similarly to a musk-ox and a takin, the only two surviving members of this totally-not-ripoffs-of-cattle grouping. I did take some creative liberties, however – Megalovis’ relations to these two bovids is still unclear, and it seems that the entirety of Bovidae is in a constant state of flux. Rather than work out these frustrating details, of which I am fully unqualified to do so, I just went with a conservative guesstimate. I gave this hefty antelope (check out my post about the Balearic Islands goat regarding the usage of the term “antelope”, because I’m not explaining that one again) a decently-thick fur coat. Since its environment could get quite chilly, I’d imagine it would need one.

The horns are restored with speculative, yet plausible, horn sheaths – these were simply calculated based off of what we know about the giant “sheep”‘s cranial hardware. The horns are swept to the side, curve downwards and then up again. Boom.

Again, the taxonomy of Bovidae is agonizing for even qualified scientists to work out, let alone a grumpy college student. So I did my best. Ah well.

SOURCES

Bechev, D. and Georgiev, D.: Paleobiodiversity of the Vrachanska Planina Mountains in the Villafranchian: a case study of the Varshets (Dolno Ozirovo) Early Pleistocene locality of fossil fauna and flora.

Gentry, A.W., 2000: An Ovibovine (Mammalia, Bovidae) from the Neogene of Stratzing, Austria. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien. Serie A für Mineralogie und Petrographie, Geologie und Paläontologie, Anthropologie und Prähistorie, pp.189-199. 

Published by Nathaniel Rice

Nathaniel Rice is a senior in high school. He is currently studying paleontology, and lives in the United States with his family and pet goats/chickens, the latter of whom are a frequent subject for his paleoart. When not illustrating extinct (and sometimes extant!) fauna, he divides his time between reading (about extinct and extant fauna, of course), his studies, and, of course, mowing down endless waves of demons in DOOM & DOOM Eternal. More of his paleoart can be found on Instagram @ dinornis.paleoart

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