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Extinct Large-headed Llama (Hemiauchenia macrocephalus) Fact Sheet: Behavior & Ecology

Extinct Large-headed Llama (Hemiauchenia macrocephalus)

How Do We Know This?

Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes reveal further clues to behavior. At a fossil site, the mix of plant and animal species gives clues to the ecosystem of that time and place.

Social Behavior

Social groups

  • Not known, but may have been similar to modern camels that live in small family groups of 2-20 individuals.
  • One report of three adults and a juvenile that fell in the same event into an entrance fissure of a New Mexico cave. (Harris 2007)
    • Perhaps this group represented a small herd.

Interspecies Interactions

  • Several species of camels co-existed with Hemiauchenia, each most likely feeding in different places or on different plants. (Webb 2006)

Locomotion

  • Like modern camels, highly adapted for a running lifestyle
    • Long slender limbs with a long stride.
  • Hemiauchenia probably had the running pace gait unique to modern camels (Janis et al 2002)
    • This is suggested by this camel's feet which are like those of modern camels (Janis et al 2002)

Page Citations

Janis et al. (2002)
Webb (2006)

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