Two of Darwin's 'strangest animals' finally classified


The origins of two wacky beasts that Darwin dubbed the "strangest animals ever discovered" had remained a mystery for some 180 years. But now, researchers say they've pinned down the evolutionary history of the two odd creatures — an ancient horselike animal with a long snout, and a rhinoceros-shaped animal with a head like that of a hippopotamus.

The new study reveals that these ungulates (hooved animals) native to South America descended from an ancient group of mammals called the condylarths — a sister group to the perissodactyls, which includes horses, tapirs and rhinos.

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