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Temporal range: Middle Eocene
|Leptictidium auderiense as it appeared in Walking with Beasts|
| †Leptictidium auderiense|
Leptictidium is a genus of an extinct genus of small mammals that were likely bipedal. It comprised of eight species, and resembled elephant shrews and bandicoots. Leptictidium was at least a meter long and lived in the Eocene rainforests in Eurasia. They lived from 50 to 35 million years ago (when the first cats appeared and the world cooled down).They were omnivorous mammals. They ate insects, lizards and small mammals. Together with macropods and humans, Leptictidium is the only known biped mammal. It's name means graceful weasel. Leptictidium lived in a scientific family called Pseudorrhyncocyonidae.
Leptictidium is a special animal because of the way its anatomy combines quite primitive elements with elements which prove a high degree of specialization. It had small fore legs and large hind legs, especially at the distal side (that further from the body). The lateral phalanges of its forelegs (fingers I and V) were very short and weak, finger III was longer and fingers II and IV were roughly equal in size, and slightly shorter than finger III. The tips of the phalanges were elongated and tapered.
It was up to 90 centimetres long, 20 centimetres high (depending upon species).
Perfectly preserved fossils of three different species of Leptictidium have been found in the Messel pit in Germany. The marks on their fur have been preserved, as well as their stomach contents.The holotype of L. tobieni also had pieces of leaves and notable amounts of sand in its abdomen, but it cannot be determined with certainty if the animal swallowed it.
In the Media
- Leptictidium appeared in Walking with Prehistoric Beasts in the episode “New Dawn”.
- Leptictidium appeared in Life After Dinosaurs.
- Leptictidium appeared in the episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Newton Boy Genius called “Sorry Wrong Era”.