Mammals on the Savanna (34-24 Million Years Ago)

Skeleton of the three-toed horse Mesohippus

About 30 million years ago, a cooler and drier climate transformed North Dakota’s swampy, subtropical forests into low scrublands and grasslands similar to savanna habitats found in Africa today. The cooler temperatures and open scrublands and grasslands were perfect habitats for large groups of grazing mammals, while small woodlands around lakes and rivers supported smaller animals like rodents.

Discover these ancient mammals. Many were members of groups that still exist today, including ancestral dogs, horses, camels, deer, and mice. A wall-size mural recreates North Dakota’s landscape 30 million years ago.

The exhibit includes the remains of the following:

  • Elephant-size brontothere Megacerops
  • Giant pig-like Archaeotherium
  • Rhinoceros Subhyracodon
  • Early horse Mesohippus
  • Weasel-like canine Hesperocyon
  • Insectivore Leptictis
  • Sheep-like Merycoidodon
  • Rabbit Palaeolagus
  • Predatory cat-like mammals Dinictis and Hoplophoneus
  • Huge tortoise Stylemys shell