Thursday, 22 October 2015

Chevrotain Has Hardly Changed in “34 Million Years”

A chevrotain or Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil). Image courtesy of Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

Zoologists tend to describe the chevrotain as a very primitive creature as some of its features resemble those of a pig.

A paper published in the journal Zoologica Scripta suggests:

Tragulids are traditionally considered as the most primitive living ruminants (e.g. Janis 1984), and they still survive as tropical relicts: the water chevrotains (Hyemoschus) of Africa and the mouse deer or Asiatic chevrotain (Tragulus) of south-east Asia. They are characterized by their skeletal and dental features which are primitive within ruminants, and their general shape, digestive system and ethology which are reminiscent to those of pigs (Dubost 1965).

The chevrotain has hardly changed in “34 million years”. In this context, describing a feature as primitive is a way of saying that there’s been no evolution in this cute little animal.

The enormous number of living fossils should be an embarrassment to a theory (Darwinian evolution) that is often defined as change over time.

Other living fossils include the ant Martialis heureka, pangolin, okapi, tarsier, red panda, sponges, nautilus. koala and starfish, for instance.

I’ve listed some others here.


Métais, Grégoire, Yaowalak Chaimanee, Jean-Jacques Jaeger & Stéphane Ducroc. 2001. New remains of primitive ruminants from Thailand: evidence the early evolution of the Ruminantia in Asia. Zoologica Scripta 30 (4): 231–248 (October 2001).