Phiomia serridens is the only species that has been found in the genus Phiomia. It is a spectacular species of land mammal that by natural reasons is already extinct. These extinct mammals inhabited many years ago, although not as much as our friends the dinosaurs.

The time scale in which this species lived is known as the Cenozoic Era. Within this time scale there are several subdivisions of which it would have inhabited during the Paleogene period.

The main characteristic of the Phiomia was the saw teeth it possessed. To get an idea of its impressive appearance, it would have a certain resemblance to an actual elephant. This resemblance is not entirely true, although it serves to get a general idea of its appearance.

What is a fascinating prehistoric animal? Do you want more information about the Phiomia? Then stay with us and find out all about this prehistoric elephant!


Basic information about the Phiomia

The Phiomia is a relatively large animal that lived on land. In spite of what it may seem to be written on our page, it is not a genus of dinosaur. We are talking about a prehistoric animal that belonged to the mammals that existed a few million years ago in the past.

  • How long is it? – It is not known.
  • How tall is it? – It was about 2.5 meters tall.
  • What’s its weight? – It’s not known.
  • When did he live? – He lived on the planet from about 36 million years ago to about 30 million years ago.
  • What’s his order? – He belongs to the Order Proboscis.

The taxonomy of the Phiomia

Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Class Mammalia > Order Proboscis > Family Phiomiidae > Genus Phiomia

Within the genus Phiomia only one species has been discovered, the P.serridens. Even so, the possibility of finding other species belonging to this genus in the future cannot be ruled out. We will take care to keep this section updated for possible future findings.

The order: the proboscis

The genus we are talking about in this entry belongs to the order of the Proboscis. They are classified within this order because they adopt the characteristics and features of the order. That is why in order to know more about Phiomia it is necessary to talk about the characteristics and features of the Proboscideans.

The resemblance that Phiomia has with today’s elephants is not something said lightly, in fact, both belong to the order of the Proboscideans. This order contains, in addition to the Elephantidae Family, many others that are currently extinct. Among the extinct ones besides the Family Phiomiidae we can also find the families hemimastodontidae, mammutidae and barytheiidae among others.

The evolution of the proboscis has been gradual and over time they have increased in size. The first species of proboscideans were relatively large compared to other animals, although compared to the more modern ones they were relatively small.

For example, the first specimens weighed only 120 kilograms while current species such as the African elephant can reach 6 tons in weight. Although speaking of weights, the species that has come to weigh the most is the Mammuthus tragontherii, with a weight of over 9 tons.

The trunk of today’s elephants is long, muscular and handles like a fifth limb. The skull of these animals is short in length and long in height. This skull however, supports without problems the enormous weight of its head thanks to the back that is well developed.

Today’s elephants are really long-lived, living for about 60 years. The sense of smell of these animals is quite developed to compensate with the sight and hearing that, on the contrary, are not very developed. Communication between elephants is carried out with different sounds, including stomping on the ground.

As noted above, most families, genera and species of this order are extinct. The only family that still exists today is the Elephantidae Family. Within this family we find African elephants and Asian elephants.

It is also interesting to mention that the mammoths that although currently are extinct, came to inhabit with the first humans and also belonged to this order of proboscis.

Description of the Phiomia

Now that we know more about the order of this genus, we can go a little deeper into its unique characteristics. It is clear that although they share most of the characteristics of their order, they have some peculiarities. In the following we will talk about the characteristics and features of the Phiomia.

The Phiomia was endowed with several tusks. This specimen had short fangs coming from the upper part (of the skull) and in the lower zone it had some fangs that took the shape of a short blade.

The size of its fangs was relatively short when compared to more recent specimens. This is due to the fact that during the evolution of the proboscis, this was one of the parts that grew.

However, the function of the lower jaw would have been to collect food while the upper tusks are thought to have been either for scraping the bark of the trees or as a defensive method against predators.

Phiomia was not a really advanced genus within the order and so its trunk was not very long either as it is in more recent species and genera. The trunk would have been very short and would have served to carry food to the mouth. The teeth it had were not sharp, as they were shaped like rounded cones similar to those of mastodons.

When did the Phiomians live?

Now that we know a little more about this genus of large extinct mammals, let’s talk about the time scale in which they lived. It was not long ago when they were here compared to the millions of years we usually handle when we talk about dinosaurs. Still, there are quite a few million that separate us from these prehistoric elephants.

These animals were on our planet during the late Eocene Epoch and even extended their presence during the very first years of the Oligocene Epoch. These times are the last ones belonging to the Paleogene Period, which in turn is the first period of the Cenozoic Era.

To give you an idea, the Phiomians inhabited our planet some 36 million years ago and disappeared some 30 million years ago in the past. The Eocene Epoch goes from 56 million years ago to 34 million years ago, while the Oligocene Epoch starts with the end of the Eocene until about 23 million years ago.

Where did the Phiomians live?

It is already a little clearer the temporal scale in which these specimens inhabited, although the area that this animal covered remains to be mentioned. It is not known for sure how much territory it actually covered, although we can say that it would have at least lived in the area of present-day Egypt.

In order to have a general idea of the environment and the time in which the Phiomia lived, let us talk a little more about the Eocene Period. During the course of this period there were really significant changes, such as the formation of the Himalayan mountain ranges or the Alps.

Regarding the climate, there was a great increase known as the thermal maximum of the Paleocene-Eocene. This rise in temperature marks the beginning of the Eocene Period and the end of the Paleocene.

During this period, birds dominated over the rest of the animals and something really curious to highlight is that during this period the largest snake species ever found lived. Another animal that takes a lot of presence during this period is the ants.

The end of the Eocene Epoch is one of the main factors for which the Phiomia became extinct. This is due to a great event known as the Great Coupure Mass Extinction. This extinction is driven by a global cooling that starts the first glaciations. This event is officially called the Azolla event.