|Illustration of the compelling Cambaytherium thewissi by Elaine Kasmer.|
As detailed in Dr. Donald Prothero and Dr. Robert Shoch's Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals (a book I recently purchased which has rekindled my strong interest in the ungulates), several scientists have previously suggested that India acted as a sort of "Noah's Ark" which allowed the dispersal of these groups to the rest of the globe following its collision with Asia at the start of the Eocene. The sudden presence of some mammal genera such as the chevrotain-like artiodactyl ancestor Diacodexis in European and North American Eocene sediments without evolutionary precedent certainly suggests that such a hypothesis is more than plausible. The recent Cambaytherium discoveries have apparently yielded "the first concrete evidence" to support this hypothesis, and thus hold even more interesting implications as to the evolution of significant early mammal groups. It is my hope that future research from the aforementioned John Hopkins University researchers who are continuing their work at nearby mines will reveal more exciting data on the evolutionary history of ungulates and other significant early mammal groups.