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Can You Guess What These Weird Extinct Animals Are Related To?

Darwin couldn't figure it out. But science just did!

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During his cruise aboard the HMS Beagle, Darwin came across some pretty weird looking bones in South America.

How these creatures fit into the evolutionary history of mammals has been a big mystery. It confused even Darwin. Now, a new study appears to have solved the problem. Put yourself in Darwin's shoes, what do you think they are most closely related to?

  1. What do you think this weird looking beast is most related to?

    This awesome creature is called a Macrauchenia. When Darwin first discovered its remains, he described it as "some large animal, I fancy a Mastodon."
    Kobrina Olga / Via en.wikipedia.org

    This awesome creature is called a Macrauchenia. When Darwin first discovered its remains, he described it as "some large animal, I fancy a Mastodon."

    Horse
    Camel
    Elephant
    Deer
    Llama

Can You Guess What These Weird Extinct Animals Are Related To?

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What do you think this weird looking beast is most related to?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Horse
  2.  
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    Camel
  3.  
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    Elephant
  4.  
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    Deer
  5.  
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    Llama
  1. What about this majestic giant?

    This thing is called a Toxodon. Darwin didn't know where to place it. It's got rodent-like teeth, but it also has a rhinoceros-like body and a head that resembles a hippo.
    Robert Bruce Horsfall / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    This thing is called a Toxodon. Darwin didn't know where to place it. It's got rodent-like teeth, but it also has a rhinoceros-like body and a head that resembles a hippo.

    Big ass rodent
    Hippo
    Rhino
    Bear
    Bison

Can You Guess What These Weird Extinct Animals Are Related To?

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What about this majestic giant?
  1.  
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    Big ass rodent
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    Hippo
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    Rhino
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    Bear
  5.  
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    Bison

Both belonged to a group of creatures called Perissodactyla.

Bluemoose / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The Perissodactyla are also known as odd-toed ungulates. The only living odd-toed ungulates are horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses.

The curious creatures Darwin ran into have been extinct for at least 10,000 years and their bones are like nothing anyone had seen before or since.

Blueringmedia / Getty Images

Making matters more complicated, it's next to impossible to extract workable DNA from these specimens.

But that's not a problem anymore! A new study published in Nature describes a brand-new technique to solve the problem. In it, the researchers were able to extract and chemically analyze collagen (a protein in bone) and compare it to the collagen of other living creatures.

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