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Extinct Pinckney's Capybara (Neochoerus pinckneyi) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Extinct Pinckney's Capybara (Neochoerus pinckneyi)

How Do We Know This?

Careful study of fossil bone or tooth anatomy yields much exact information about placement and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. In rare cases, skin and hair impressions or actual skin or hair is preserved. Body weight is more difficult to gauge because fat leaves no impression on the skeleton.

Physical Characteristics

AttributeNeochoerus pinckneyi
Estimated Body Weight about 33% larger than modern capybara which weighs 48.9 kg (108 lb) 
Estimated Head/Body Length around 180 cm (6 ft)
Tail Length Capybaras have vestigal tails.

General Appearance

General Description

  • Neochoerus pinkneyi was a large barrel-shaped rodent with a large head and short legs; modern capybara are 33% smaller.


  • Cheek teeth grew throughout life in all dimensions; cutting and grinding surfaces became more complex as animal aged. (Mones & Ojasti 1986)
  • Incisor teeth are slightly grooved. (Kurtén 1988)
  • Lower incisors more compressed than those of living capybara. (Kurtén 1988)


  • Presumed like modern capybara: long, coarse, sparse.

Sexual Dimorphism

In modern capybara males and females are about the same size, although males are more robust. 

Other Characteristics

Neochoerus like all members of its subfamily has a 4th molar as long as the other three. (Macdonald & Herrera 2001)

Page Citations

Kurtén (1988)
Kurtén and Anderson (1980)
Macdonald & Herrera (2001)
Mones & Ojasti (1986)

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