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December 27, 2023 46 mins

Happy holidays! I'll see you soon in the new year, but until then, enjoy a past episode... millions of years in the past. Who will pull Cave Santa's sleigh?

Guest: Alex Schmidt 


Credit to Aaron Kenny for Creative Commons music 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
Welcome to Creature Future production of iHeartRadio Creature Feature.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
It's Creature cring Old Times, Oh Holiday Special about our
furry friends. Today we'll go into the distant past and
find out who Bold Cape Santasly.

Speaker 3 (00:27):
Imagination Station.

Speaker 2 (00:30):
Real life unicorns join us as we learn exploring.

Speaker 4 (00:34):
The early elephants were really really rare, and horses used
to be like you were boys Creecha feature the Holiday Special.

Speaker 1 (00:49):
But we will not be singing the whole time.

Speaker 3 (00:52):
I promise stay here.

Speaker 2 (00:54):
Placed On gold.

Speaker 1 (01:00):
Welcome to Creature Feature production of iHeartRadio. I'm your host.
So many parasites, Katie Golden. I studied psychology and evolutionary biology,
and today on the show, we're talking about Caveman Santa
and who would have guided.

Speaker 2 (01:13):
Its like Happy Creature cringle, Happy Creature, Congle, Happy Creature cry.

Speaker 1 (01:31):
So we are going to be sacking Santa's reindeer and
replacing them with my favorite contenders from Christmas past, way past,
millions of years in the past, from a real unicorn
to a horse small enough to fit in Paris Hilton's purse.
These ghosts of Christmas Paths are ready to spread joy
to all the world's children. Or cave children or apes.

When we go far enough back discover this and more
as we answer the age old question, if you've got
a shovel for a mouth, how do you kiss under
the mistletoel? Joining me today is friend of the podcast,
host of Secretly incredibly Fascinating and jolly Human, Alex Schmidt.

Speaker 5 (02:12):
Welcome. I have so deeply chilly after that song. Yes,
I felt like we were both Clay madd and on
a sledge. Yeah, going through a wonderful land. That was great.

Speaker 1 (02:29):
Yeah, our hair kind of flopping around as it's not
quite animated correctly, and like you can see like fingerprints
on the clay, that kind of like style, you know,
real rough, real rough clamation going on here.

Speaker 5 (02:43):
Yeah. They made it in a hurry and they had to.

Speaker 1 (02:46):
Yeah, you can see a hand in one of the frames.
There's like clear wires and threads sticking out. But that's
what makes it special. So today we are we are
actually talking about animals that do look like they are
from a crappy clamation from the fifties, like for real,
and I am so excited. These are prehistoric, extinct animals

who I think would be quite impressive guiding Santa's sleigh.

Speaker 5 (03:15):
So I love it. That's very exciting.

Speaker 1 (03:16):
Yeah, so let's start out, I think with a unicorn.

Speaker 3 (03:20):

Speaker 1 (03:20):
Do you believe in unicorns?

Speaker 5 (03:22):
Oh? I don't believe in them. I just really like
the concept, like that was some really clever. I wonder
if people were ever like cryptid believing in it type
people about unicorns. I think it's a very fun, fantastical idea.

Speaker 1 (03:37):
I think so. I think people did just probably because
they found fossils they couldn't explain and they were like, well,
that's a unicorn. Or they found an RWL tusk and
they're like, that's a unicorn.

Speaker 5 (03:50):
That's yeah, that's true. I guess, especially when you're digging,
if you just find a whole horse and one horn
from any horned animal, it's an easy mistake to make.

Speaker 1 (03:59):
Yeah, exactly. But what if I told you there really
was a unicorn and it's very fantastical looking, I'd be thrilled.

Speaker 5 (04:08):
I'd want to ride first. First I was in a
claymated sled. Very thrilling. Now I'm going to ride a unicorn.
I've gotta listen to that like happy Unicorn power song
from that one game, like the platformer from the internet. Yeah,
it's not a good description of it, but you know
what I mean.

Speaker 1 (04:22):
Yeah, So, first, in order to discover this unicorn, I
want you to imagine a rhino, just a regular rhino.
You got it on it?

Speaker 5 (04:32):

Speaker 1 (04:32):
Is it in there? Now make it bigger, like, way bigger.
And now make it fluffy. Is it fluffy?

Speaker 5 (04:40):
Oh fantastic?

Speaker 1 (04:41):
Yes, Now reimagine the rhino's horn to the horn of
a giant magical unicorn coming right out of the middle
of its forehead.

Speaker 5 (04:56):
That's true, the forehead horn. That's got to be such
a different experience from the nose horn right right right,
like your whole head balance and everything. That seems like
a maybe small change at first, but when I really
think about it, boy, totally differently.

Speaker 1 (05:10):
Yeah. There aren't really many animals or any that I
can think of, that really have that single forehead horn.
Our current day rhinos do sometimes have a sort of
nose horn and then maybe a forehead horn the two
horned rhinos, and some of them just got through the
nose horn bump, but one horn just right out in
the middle of the forehead. Really struggling to think of

any mammal that has that situation going on.

Speaker 5 (05:37):
Yeah, shoot, I wish they were still here. I think
this is prehistoric, right we Yeah, it's it's departed in
an age long ago.

Speaker 1 (05:44):
It has they have gone on a big spaceship and
gone to that great planet of the Siberian unicorns in
the sky. So, yes, this is the extinct Siberian unicorn
aka alasmatheriums sibericum that once thudded along the grasslands of
your asia long ago. So alex, uh, you have it

in your imagination, and now look at those pictures that
I've provided for you as well.

Speaker 5 (06:16):
Yeah, I'm pulling it up. And this is an extra
good time to me because there's like an illustration first
and then a physical mockup somebody made seconds. And I
think the physical mock up the horn gets even bigger
if I'm seeing this right like they just I feel
like every person who imagines this is exaggerating like a
fish story with the horn.

Speaker 1 (06:38):
At some point the horn is just so big. It's
this little little rhinoceros dangling off of it.

Speaker 3 (06:44):
Yeah, so the horn itself.

Speaker 1 (06:48):
We don't I'm gonna be real with you, We don't
really know how big this thing was. The size of
it is estimated based on the skull, because I don't
think they have like that much in term of full
intact horns of like adults. So the like it's like
there's this indentation on the skull that seems to be

where the horn would have grown out of, and then
they estimate the size of the horn based on other
aspects of this thing. So I am a little skeptical
of the one where it just seems like it is
this massive horn that is almost I mean, it's bigger
than its head in circumference almost. Not sure if that's true,

but it would be cool cool if true.

Speaker 5 (07:34):
I think I think you're right. I think this drawing
the first version it's and it's still quite a horn,
and it also seems a little more proportional. Yeah, I'm
way into it. Yeah, And it's so far up on
the head there, You're right, it's just kind of got
a snout in the nose area.

Speaker 1 (07:48):
It's it's a chunky unicorn. It's a thick, thick unicorn.
So the Siberian unicorn when extinct a little under forty
thousand years ago, so technically humans may have crossed paths
with these fellers at some point. It was huge, it
was larger than any living species of rhino and larger

than its contemporary, the wooly rhino. So it weighed around
four tons or two toyota tacomas, my favorite unit of measurement.
It was fifteen feet or four point five meters long.
It was also over eight feet or two point five

meters tall, So is a big boy.

Speaker 5 (08:35):
Wow. Okay, yeah, yeah, I love with the prehistoric stuff.
They do that little scale diagram where it's just a
silhouette of a little human next to whatever it is.
I'm glad to know that human would be very dwarfed.

Speaker 1 (08:49):
Yeah, be little, just lit, little bitty human. I mean,
riding one of these things, you'd look like a hobbit. Yeah.

Speaker 5 (08:59):
It's very like somebody on a giant eagle and learn
of the rings, right that scale The eagle is much bigger.

Speaker 1 (09:05):
Yeah, yeah, I mean it is. It is shockingly huge.
I think that it is. And it's funny because it
is like it's like a very metal unicorn. So like
you know, you have a unicorn, and people may tease
you like, oh you like unicorns. That's like, you know,
that's weak, that's something that manly, you know, I don't

even know toxic masculinity, but like this, this is a
unicorn who would thoroughly trounce you.

Speaker 5 (09:40):
I guess forgotten that a little bit. There is that
gendering of how we assume people will like unicorns, Like
we think all horse girls will also like unicorns, and
then boys will be too busy with tanks and this
animal is sort of a tank.

Speaker 1 (09:54):
So it's funny to me that unicorns is seen as
this like feminine kind of like non tough thing because
it is a horse that has a spear on its forehead.

Speaker 5 (10:08):
Yeah, yeah, like put it together, folks.

Speaker 1 (10:10):
Right, a horse on a bad day can wreck you, right,
like a horse can already wreck you. Oh, it can
stop you, it can toss you, it can kick you.
It's already serious. And then you add a weapon to
its head and we're like, oh, that's you know, that's
that's weak, Like that's that's silly, and that's for girls.

And it's like, first of all, fine, like if girls
have to claim unicorns, it's fine, good luck with your
non weaponized horses, Fellas.

Speaker 5 (10:43):
That is funny. About a month ago I rode a
horse for the first time.

Speaker 1 (10:46):
Really was it scary and scared of horses?

Speaker 5 (10:50):
It I think it was a very well trained horse,
but it also had a lot of different ideas from
me about how we should be proceeding on the ride,
where we should go, how fast we should go. It's
like every time I told it to do something different,
it changed. It was like, okay, fine. But also I
had learned how to talk to this horse like two
seconds before getting at it. Yeah, so I did not
feel in control at all. I was like, Okay, I

just hope being perched on this works out.

Speaker 1 (11:14):
Yeah. Yeah, I mean I feel like I would be
very easily bossed around by a horse. I love horses.
I have never ridden a real horse. I've written a
pony before as a kid, but I thoroughly respect them.
And they scare me a little bit, like they are
so huge, and I'm like, you are just by your

good nature not turning my face into a concave bowl
like I eh, you know. And I think that they
are quite impressive, and they the idea of like being like, well,
now I'm gonna hop on you. It's like that seems rude.

Maybe the horse is fine with it, but I don't
know what I'm doing. And I would just let that
board that I would let the horse take charge. Really,
it's just like, look, don't ignore me, do what you want.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm even here. You want to carrot?
Don't don't kick me?

Speaker 5 (12:16):
Should have carrots? Yeah, I and you know, I made
it back to shout out to Bud. Bud was the
name of the horse, Bud. But there's Yeah, he's a
nice guy. But it's it really is. It's like you're
it's like you're on a motorcycle, but you're also on
top of a cliff, right, and then a fireman animal
can throw you off of the cliff at any time

if it wants to.

Speaker 1 (12:38):
Yeah, it's a motor tall motorcycle with feelings. Yeah, well.

Speaker 5 (12:48):
Anyway, I want to ride this animal.

Speaker 1 (12:50):
So anyways, this is like a mega rhino, also with
a huge spear on its head, so good luck with that.
The horn on its head is thought to have been
massive and likely required the Siberian unicorn to grow a
large muscular hump on its back, sort of like a bison. Yeah,
and you love bison, so I thought you'd like this

This guy too, fantastic. It is unknown, like I said,
how big the horn really was, but based on a
large indiant found on its skull reconstructions, imagine this unicorn
is being longer than its head and very very thick.
I would say some of the thickest models of it
may be exaggerating a little bit, but it even with

the more toned down the toned down illustrations of it,
still look ridiculous. Like it is like a thick It's
like a bison mixed with a rhino. Make it huge
and then a like not just like one of those
sort of thin you know unicorn horns, a big one.
It's a chonker.

Speaker 5 (13:57):
Yeah. When you said the scientific name before, I think
the phrase like them was part of it. Yeah, and
I'm pretty sure I learned from this great show. I
first learned about megatheriums, and ever since then I've been like, okay,
theium is probably a big megathere oh mega too.

Speaker 1 (14:18):
Yeah, sure, I don't know what the theeum room means
theeum does that mean?

Speaker 5 (14:25):
Oh yeah, I don't know.

Speaker 1 (14:26):
I don't know Latin. I probably should have learned Latin
at some point because of animals, but I didn't. But yeah,
so this is yeah, this is a lasmo Theorium cibericum.
So yeah, yeah, despite looking like they could easily shish
kabab you and roast you over and open fire. They
were big, old herbivores, likely grazers who munched down massive

amounts of grass, and their dependence on the grasslands may
have been what led to their downfall. There's not really
evidence that we like to them to extinction or anything
like that. It seems to be more that because they
were so huge and they needed so much grass that
as grasslands shrank after the ice age, they simply were

not able to get enough grass to sustain their populations.

Speaker 5 (15:16):
That makes sense. Yeah, this definitely seems like it needs
to be chompident chewing all of the time to buildup
more horn, but also to keep going.

Speaker 1 (15:23):
Yeah, right exactly, so that that temperature change really kind
of screwed them. So in terms of why I think
the Siberian unicorn would be a good candidate for Santa
Cave Santa to bring back from from the I guess
from the extinction, although I guess if it's Cave Santa

Cave Santa would have been contemporary with this guy. So
one is that there is huge horn to break ice
or to fight off grenches. The Siberian unicorn is also
vegetarian friendly. It only grass. It is also fluffy, cold proof,
and adorable. And it's a literal unicorn, so I feel

like it is already probably infused with magic. What do
you think, Alex?

Speaker 5 (16:14):
I agree with all that, and I'm thinking of that
like traditional picture of what is an eight reindeer pulling
the sledge? Yes, And I feel like it's like a
two columns of four reindeer. Is the general arrangement right
like to two These guys would need to work out
being positioned directly behind each other with an enormous horn.

And I could do it because like reindeer have those
huge antlers, they're not sticking up each other's butts all
the time, you know, so these guys could probably figure
it out trust But.

Speaker 1 (16:45):
The antlers are little less forward facing than this horn,
so I guess they'd need they'd need some personal space
there to avoid a very unfortunate situation if like the
one in front breaks very suddenly.

Speaker 5 (17:00):
Yeah, yeah, I think maybe a bunch of pathing like yeah,
window sock sort of structure it stick.

Speaker 1 (17:08):
A little like ball of styrofoam on the top of
that point there.

Speaker 5 (17:15):
I think it could be festive going to work honey,
and they put a huge one of those foam microphone
covers over your horn.

Speaker 1 (17:21):
Like it could be festive, little festive pom poms.

Speaker 5 (17:26):
Oh, a lot of lights. You can put so many
Christmas lights on.

Speaker 1 (17:30):
Wow, that you could paint it like a giant candy cane.

Speaker 3 (17:33):
Goshh So, Alex, I.

Speaker 1 (17:44):
Know what you're wondering. I know what you're thinking. What
do you get when you cross a snowshovel with an elephant?

Speaker 5 (17:52):
Man? Finally, here I am on a horseback in the
woods wondering that question, and the horse is like, I
don't know, man, And I keep asking the horse, what
do you do with a snowshovel in an elephant?

Speaker 1 (18:01):
It's one of the great unanswered questions of our times. Well,
I have an answer. It's the platy belodon, the world's
doofiest extinct elephant. He looks so dumb.

Speaker 5 (18:13):
Hooray Oh I pulled up the picture. Wow, great, very good.

Speaker 1 (18:21):
This is one of my favorite extinct animals. It is
one of the animals that got me interested in evolutionary
biology when I was a kid, because I got like
a what was it. I don't remember the brand of magazine.
It might have been a zoo books, but it was
like a free magazine we got in the mail.

Speaker 5 (18:41):
That was about Suprehistoric Freaks Weekly. That was one of
my favorite.

Speaker 3 (18:45):

Speaker 1 (18:45):
It was like it was like the evolution of the elephant,
and it showed a just a bunch of weird, weird elephants,
and I was fascinated by that, and it really, I
mean I was already I already loved it. I think
I was already probably addicted to animals at that point,
but this was, this was amazing. And so the Platybelodon

was one of the world's doofiest extinct elephants, possibly the
world's doofiest looking animal. It looks like a Star Wars animal,
but something that is so silly looking. Even George Lucas
would have had to edit it out of his films,
and he is notorious for having doofy things and not

knowing how to edit.

Speaker 5 (19:34):
I am if people don't know really made the bison.
Emoji also vary into stuff like elephants, and I think
just like large mammals or like big I define things
I'm into. Yeah, and like when those when those Delexe
editions of the original Star Wars movies came out. I
was pretty excited about the do Bachs. I think that

whole school of animals, I'm like, pretty good. But do
Bacs are also, as you say, much more conventional. These
guys would be just wacky. It would be like, why
are the stormtroopers on a comedy animal? Silly?

Speaker 1 (20:08):
Yeah, So they do have a bit of a charger
being situation going on the yeah.

Speaker 5 (20:16):

Speaker 1 (20:16):
So the Plotybelodon is a genus of extinct relatives of
elephants that lived during the Miocene epoch ten to fifteen
million years ago in Asia and Africa. So imagine an elephant,
but it's actually a bit smaller. Sometimes when we go prehistoric,
the animals are bigger, like giant slots and this giant

unicorn rhino, but sometimes it's smaller, you know. So this
one's a little bit smaller. Now, turn its trunk into
a giant shovel like almost kind of like duck bill
thing with a couple of buck teeth sticking out of
the lower jaw right on the tip of its mouth.
In addition, it still has tusts on the side of

its mouth like modern elephants. So there has been a
lot of debate about exactly what this thing looks like.
So there are some depictions of it that are a
little more far fetched than others. All of the depictions
of it are bananas bonkers, so don't worry, like there's
there's no depiction of it that makes it look normal,

like a reasonable animal. Some are just a little more
wild than others. The depiction that is my favorite, uh,
but possibly the least accurate, is the one where it
has like stretched out daffy duck like bill with like
buck teeth on the bottom. So it's hard to know

exactly what they look like because we only have the
like fossil records, we don't have the soft tissue records,
so like we don't know what like any of the
sort of soft tissue would have looked like. We can
only guess based on the skull, the lower jaw, what
the upper fleshy part of their essentially like it's this

elongated proboscus would have looked like. So with a modern elephant,
you have a elongated nose that acts as this big
proboscis and has all these muscles very fine tune control,
and its mouth is way back, you know, like it's
like it pulls it doesn't eat with the tip of
its trunk. It can breathe with the tip of its trunk,

but it you know, can pull up grasses or vegetation
and bring it up to its mouth. And you've probably
seen an elephant eat, you've probably seen it drink. It
also doesn't drink like through its nose. It sucks that
water in and then dumps it into its mouth.

Speaker 5 (22:43):
So yea, yea.

Speaker 1 (22:46):
So it's not that the Platybelodon had a similar situation
going that it didn't like have a weird mouth at
the tip of its preboscus, but unlike the unlike the elephant,
it had a low, elongated lower jaw. Now this is
pretty pretty definitive based on the fossil records. We have

the fossil records of this really long, like weird Scooper
shovel shovel like lower jaw that probably had these like
two sort of like buck teeth or like weird just
like two tusks together that's stuck out at the bottom.
So definitely had a long lower jaw. Now, the upper one,

like it could have been more like a modern day
elephant tusk, right, because the idea that it was more
like an elephant tusk. Is that its mouth again, like,
how is it gonna get stuff in its mouth like
like sort of scoop things up and then like toss
its head all the way back and hope that it
all falls in. Probably not with that. If it has

an easily manipulatable upper preboscis, then it could like you know,
pick things up and then place it back into its mouth,
which is like you know, sort of like the bits
where it would be able to chew and eat stuff
is not at the tip of that proboscis or even
at the tip of that jaw. It'd be in like deeper.

I mean, like it's weird to think about because our
mouths are so like self contained. But for this, for
this thing, it can't like chew with the front bits
of its lower jaw or its longus. It's got to
get it back there somehow. So like the depictions of
its mouth is more like a weird I don't even know,

just like a weird kind of like beak thing that
like closes all the way. It's like, well, then this
that upper thing would have to somehow get stuff in
that deeper into its mouth. And it's a little unclear
how it would do that with such a long, unwieldy
uh duck like preboscis. But you know, it could have

been flatter than a modern day elephant's trunk, but still
could manipulate things like still grab things and manipulate and
push it back, so I get I. In my opinion,
probably the most accurate model would be elephant with this
ridiculously long lower jaw with the two buck teeth sticking out.

So that's still good, that's still there.

Speaker 5 (25:23):
Oh yeah, we're not losing that.

Speaker 1 (25:25):
The top part of it. Probably a flatter but still
relatively recognizable elephant trunk on top of it, so not
quite like a weird duck bill, but still a flatter,
a little bit thicker and flatter elephant trunk. That's my
unprofessional opinion.

Speaker 5 (25:48):
That's making me think of obviously all the cartoon ducks
you mentioned total fit, and then I'm thinking of the
Disney character goofy.

Speaker 1 (25:58):

Speaker 5 (25:58):
I think if you put those two teeth of his
on the bottom and set the top, that's kind of
the mouth we're looking at, which yet I don't want
to see him eat at all, so that really takes
out of the cartoon.

Speaker 1 (26:12):
It's it's very even the most reserved reconstructions of this
are wild and very very strange. Looks like a fever
dream of an elephant. Yeah, now there, So like, there
used to be this theory about this elephant that kind

of informed the illustrations of it, which is that it
used its mouth as a shovel and kind of like
would live in sort of swampy areas and then shovel
up sort of swamp grasses and then like you know,
kind of let it sort of drop in the backs
of their mouths. But modern researchers think that it's more

likely given the shape and characteristics of those low or
buck teeth that just jut out. God it, it's just
it's so weird. It's like a big spoon with like
these two like a fork at the end. I don't
even know, man, it's look this thing up. Please look
it up, and don't look at just the first result.
Look at many different reconstructions. So the thought is that

that they used this lower jaw not to like as
a shovel, but actually as like a tree trimmer. So uh,
it's like, uh, basically, the wear patterns on this seem
to indicate that it was used to strip off bark
and leaves off of trees. So basically it would use

this lower jutting jaw to like tree trim the tree,
and then it's upper trunk to take that stuff it
just trimmed and then push it back into its mouth.

Speaker 5 (27:55):
I yeah, like a bucket for catching like an out.
It is amazing.

Speaker 1 (28:01):
Yeah, yeah, so it's I mean, it's just like you
can imagine this thing shred and stuff with its weird
lower jaw and then picking it up with its upper
trunk thing and then putting it in its mouth. Just
I mean, there's no no matter how one reconstructs this,
this elephant, it was preposterous.

Speaker 5 (28:25):
Yeah, for some reason of imaginally some comedy sketch where
like a tree has a mind like a human and
is like, look at that dumb animal. Definitely eats marsh stuff.
Doesn't fuck me, it's getting closer to me, don't need
to worry about it. Getting even closer to me, doesn't matter.
Stupid marshmouth. Definitely that Oh no, uh uh, it's definitely
a tree driver's aw. Oh no.

Speaker 1 (28:48):
So this is why I think the Platybelodon would be
a good candidate for Santa's sleigh team. So even though
it may not have used its mouth as a shovel,
I think it still could, so emergency the snowshovel mouth
for efficient rooftop landings, as long as the roof is
structurally stable enough to handle the weight of a small elephant.

But in addition, those buck teeth would be useful for
tree trimming, so cutting down Christmas trees trimming them all
great proboscis could the elephant trunk part of it could
be used to help tie Christmas presents And sorry, creature
Kringle presence. I want to be clear here. This is
for Creature Kringle Times, a non denominational holiday for all.

Uh yeah, so creature creche Keva a creature Kringle Times presence.
Also Santa at least our creature Kringle Time Santa. Cave
Santa is a kind, magical man who knows not to
ride on top of the Platybelodon because Platybelodon, like modern elephants,
probably had a skeletal structure that means they can't bear

the weight of a human rider and that can hurt
hit them. So Cave Santa would know this because he's
you know, magical and would use magical sleigh powder to
help the Plattybellaton fly and there would be no pressure
on its back. And they're probably friends. So that's cannon.

Speaker 5 (30:16):
Yeah, that's that's true. That's right. Yeah. I like that
we're thinking so much about how this animal eats. Yes,
it's making me think about Santa. Like there's so much
Santa Laura about how Santa eats and drinks as this
night goes on, Like he has a couple of billion
helpings of milk and cookies. So I want the Christmas
stuff to be like, yeah, kids like Santa will come

have milk and cookies. Meanwhile, his platty belladons are eating
the trees outside our house. That's a fun break to me.
That's a good a good stopper snacks.

Speaker 1 (30:47):
Yeah, make sure to plant a lot of friendly, deciduous
edible trees for the Plattybelloton, the creature Kringle times platty Beloton.

Speaker 5 (30:59):
You're like, oh, a wonderful set of presents. Anyway, time
to go outside and all the trees are just gone,
like you can just see for miles, you know.

Speaker 1 (31:06):
Right, I mean you got to pay the piper. In
this instance, an extinct elephant relative Yeah, there's a lot
of rooftop damage too from the magical Platybelodon thumping down
onto the roof. I feel like reindeer reindeer would cause
a good amount of damage anyways, So.

Speaker 5 (31:30):
That's yeah. I think a lot of especially kids are like, oh,
all hoofed animals are on like pony logic where it's
tiny in a way I want it to be. But
those things are huge, like they would definitely break through
a lot of roofs and singles and stuff.

Speaker 1 (31:43):
Yeah, well, speaking of tiny pony logic, when we return,
we are going to stop with the big and start
thinking small. So tiny pony time, tiny pony time, tiny,
tiny any time. It's like tiny tim but tiny pony at.

Speaker 5 (32:04):
Least, sir, may I have some ponies. It's like, I'll
give you ponies. I'm actually very nice, surprise.

Speaker 1 (32:11):
So so far we've gone with huge animals who could
probably take over, like the whole reindeer team, to be honest,
like the platty belt On the Siberian Unicorn, both quite
huge megafauna. But what about microfauna neotini, tiny adorable animals.
So let's look at the world's first horse number one

horse number one like once we started making these horses
very different from from the horses today. So when we
think about like the world's first x y Z, it's
it's like kind of tricky, right, like, well, what truly
was the world's first horse? Well, it's more like this
is the first sort of common ancestor of all horses.

And that's essentially what we would say, say, like, you
know the first horse, and the first horse was so
teeny and tiny inch bowl. Uh, it's it's so wonderful.
The first horse was the Prippis Sandre, which was a
genus of teeny tiny, itty bitty baby horses who lived

in Wyoming over fifty million years ago. So it was
the size of a chihuahua around eight pounds or four
and a half kilograms. It was smaller than a modern
horse's head. So wow, this kind of horse, I feel

like I could confidently boss around.

Speaker 5 (33:45):
It's true, isn't it? Is this the horse from the
question about the duck sized horses or the horse sized duck?
This is it?

Speaker 1 (33:52):
Right? Like, I guess fight, but I wouldn't want to
fight these guys because they're so cute.

Speaker 5 (33:58):
No. No, And also, anytime people ask that question, I'm like,
why are you battling animals? They're so nice? Like, I
don't know that.

Speaker 1 (34:06):
I feel like, if the duck sized horses want to
fight you, you've done something to deserve it.

Speaker 5 (34:12):
Absolutely, all one hundred of them can't be wrong.

Speaker 1 (34:16):
So the main difference between it and modern horses, other
than obviously the fact it's the size of a lap dog,
is its feet. So while horses have one fused toe,
the cyphrippis had multiple toes. So it's like a teeny
tiny horse with little tutsis cool.

Speaker 5 (34:38):
Okay, yeah, I'll bet that's I'll bet that's helpful for walking.
You have a little more control, grip, et cetera. You're
not just on a stub that has to be one thing.

Speaker 1 (34:47):
I mean, it's a it's a trade off, right, like
you are sort of The hoof has some great properties
in terms of like sort of suspension, weight distribution, things
like that toughness of the feet and the fact that
this thing like continually the horse hoof like sort of

continually grows and makes it very tough, and so a
horse can in a wild horse can sort of trample
over rough terrain and like shoes, you know, natural shoes
growing shoes. The reason we actually have to shoe horses
that are domesticated is because they are on harder surfaces,

so like streets, cobblestone, things like that, any kind of
like paved thing is going to be too hard on
the hoofs and will wear them down too quickly. But
wild horses are on softer terrain, but still having those
like hooves does protect their feet and legs from the
stress of like galloping and running, and they don't really

need the other toes for things like they don't use
them for other things. So that is why generally speaking,
like you'd have something like a hoof form, but for
this little, tiny, light animal, it doesn't necessarily need the
hoof structure so much to like you know, offer that
cushioning that protection as it's like running, and the toes

might be useful for something like digging things up. In fact,
like some ungulates, not all ungulates have like horse hoofs.
Some are like have multiple toes, and some have things
like cup shaved hooves, like caribou or reindeer have these
like cup shaped hooves oh that can actually like dig
up vegetation. So yeah, they're all sorts of interesting hoof structures.

But yeah, the first the first horse ancestor genus, like
they had multiple toes, they didn't had not yet had
those all fused into that one hoof.

Speaker 5 (36:51):
Wow, that's also interesting. I didn't know much of any
of that, especially like cup shaped hoofs. That's great. Yeah,
that seems very.

Speaker 1 (36:58):
Handy, very very handy hoofy uh.

Speaker 5 (37:02):
Oh right, I'm so human centric, like those are probably
bad and hands are the best, is my pet.

Speaker 1 (37:12):
Interestingly, scientists are looking at how the cypripis responded to
climate change to predict how species might be impacted during
our current anthropogenic climate change. So in the past there's
been climate change, right, like natural climate change. Currently, the
climate change we're experiencing is increasing at a rate unprecedented,

and it's anthropogenic caused, human cause. Like there's a bunch
of research on this. So like when people were like, oh, well,
you know there's been climate change in the past, like
it's different. But even in the past, climate change did
have a huge impact on the world. So there was
a period of rapid heating during the Paleocene Eocene thermal maximum,

which was around fifty five million years ago, where global
temperatures rose by almost twenty degrees fahrenheit or eight degrees
celsius and lasted around two hundred thousand years. And the
paleontologists have found that this caused the Cyphripus species to
get small, going from around twelve pounds to eight pounds,

so they started off all and when even more teacup size.
It's possible then that researchers speculate that maybe modern animals
will adapt to global warming by getting smaller, if they
don't just go extinct. So, yeah, like global warming today
is happening at an alarmingly fast rate. So the worry

is that it's happening too fast for animals to adapt.
That is just going to like cause sort of extinctions
rather than you know, a more gradual natural selection. But
it's possible that animals will become smaller in response to
global warming. That's not necessarily a good thing.

Speaker 5 (39:03):
But you know, yeah, that's such a man I never
thought of that being a way things can go though.
Even that's amazing. Yeah, I guess we have these ancient
examples of some non human cause stuff that can be
a guidance. That's amazing.

Speaker 1 (39:17):
Yeah, I mean again, it's very different because this is
a different kind of global warming that is happening in
a much shorter time scale than historic periods of global warming.
But yeah, it's it's still possible that we would see
there be some selection for smaller animals. It's it's hard
to know exactly. But anyways, let's talk about how we

could get the Zepps to whole Santas Sleigh.

Speaker 5 (39:47):
Also, can we can we celebrate the name zeph Come on, folks, well,
actually fantastic.

Speaker 1 (39:52):
It's got the acronym of your podcast in there. S
I f R H I P p U s so sif.
Secretly and credibly fascinating. This is the horse of your podcast.

Speaker 5 (40:03):
That's right, I'm sitting on one every time I tape.
It's doing fine. It can it can handle it. Yeah,
a tiny horse.

Speaker 1 (40:13):
It kind of like made me think of like some
old timey way of like writing sir, and I'm reading
it as like some medieval like cirrippis, like you know,
some kind of honorific So, uh, let's say that gets
the same magical properties, same physics of the nine reindeer
that Santa has. And remember, reindeer are real animals also

known as caribou. They are quite hefty Santa's reindeer are
likely female because male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter,
while females keep their antlers during the winter and shed
them in spring. So all all those prance are to answer,
they're all ladies, Okay.

Speaker 5 (40:58):
I Also when I was thinking about, like how this
sleigh is arranged, and I was thinking of eight reindeer,
I think I fully forgot about Rudolph.

Speaker 1 (41:05):
Yeah, that is.

Speaker 5 (41:06):
Definitely the most famous one. Uh Like, I'm the one
who has been through the most fully.

Speaker 1 (41:11):
Alex the one that was denying Rudolph those reindeer games,
So direct your hate towards Alex.

Speaker 5 (41:18):
Yeah, it's four on four, man, what do you want?
What are we gonna do? You can't have an odd number. Yeah,
And also it's eight ladies. You're a guy, that's fine,
but you know, we kind of have a thing.

Speaker 1 (41:29):
I mean, it's interesting because Rudolph is sometimes depicted as
not having antlers, like having little nubs, so he could
actually be the only male.

Speaker 5 (41:38):
Wow, right, that's yeah. Santa Santa is so he just
has a lot of personal decisions going on. We don't understand.
We're not privy to it, right, you know, how do
I get in that meeting.

Speaker 1 (41:50):
So, uh, female's weigh around two hundred pounds or ninety
kilograms female reindeers, so times nine range, that's like one
eight hundred pounds of pure reindeer. So obviously there's probably
more biophysics that goes into this in terms of like

muscle capacity, pulling capacity, skeletal strength. I'm not gonna do
any of that. It's creature kringleness. We don't have time.
So how many sifrippis do we need to equal this
amount of reindeer heft sifrippists are only around eight to
twelve pounds, so you'd need one hundred and fifty to
two hundred and twenty five cifrif sifrippis tiny ponies to

equal nine reindeer. So you would get to hear the
little toe toe steps of two hundred and twenty five
tiny horses pulling uh, Cave Santa's sleigh or at least
like these were not These were like around fifty million
years ago. Humans were not around at this time, so
Cave Santa would have to do some kringle to bring

this guy back.

Speaker 5 (43:04):
That's incredible, and I guess the naming situation is fine.
You get to pick a lot of names. Maybe it's
too many to pick, right, there's.

Speaker 1 (43:13):
You know, Clarence one, Clarence two, Clarence three, Clarence.

Speaker 5 (43:21):
Four, the first name we pull.

Speaker 1 (43:25):
Yeah, they're all Clarences. I can't, I can't.

Speaker 5 (43:32):
Event I guess it would eventually be like NASA where
they just start numbering the asteroids, you know, like there's
too many asteroids. Man, what are we gonna do?

Speaker 1 (43:39):
Tiny horse?

Speaker 5 (43:40):
Just one serial numbers?

Speaker 1 (43:41):
Yeah, yeah, just serial numbers on their butts, poor, poor
little horses. Maybe they don't want to Maybe they don't
want to fly creature Kringle time slay. Maybe they just
want to hang out, chill out in grasslands and skip around.

Speaker 5 (43:57):
Yeah. I also, I'm just realized sing how pretty that
herd probably is. It's it probably looks like a flack
of birds or something. Just that.

Speaker 1 (44:07):
Guys, just little guys, just a little like just great,
just so cute. I would love to have a lap
horse like this, just had it, keep it in my lap,
feel a little baby carrots, because that's all could have
because it's so small. I do.

Speaker 5 (44:26):
I want to see one try to pick up a
whole carrot and just thud.

Speaker 1 (44:33):
Little baby, little baby, it's so cute. I love tiny horses.
I love tiny horses. Bring back like I know that
we have a bunch of like extinction projects and stuff
and maybe it's unethical, but I don't care. Bring back
this horse.

Speaker 5 (44:47):
Yeah, do it? Okay, worried about it.

Speaker 1 (44:50):
My proposal for like government funding is come on, teddy horse,
come on.

Speaker 5 (44:59):
Just at the the h or some huge government organization.
You're just poking somebody like standing behind me.

Speaker 1 (45:09):
So, Alex, thank you so much for joining me today.
Where can the people find you?

Speaker 5 (45:16):
Thank you for having me. It's always great, And yeah,
I hope people enjoy my podcast Secretly Incredibly Fascinating, which
also should have a recent episode about Snoopy. Yeah, featuring
guest Katie Golden. That's a minute and that's me, that's you. Yeah. Yeah,
but yeah, it's history and science and stories about why
something seemingly ordinary is amazing. And I'm also glad Matron's

pick Snoopy because you know, folks love Snoopy. And also
it turns out there was a lot.

Speaker 1 (45:43):
More there, a lot of snoop pegs out there.

Speaker 5 (45:45):

Speaker 1 (45:46):
I think this show is fantastic. I highly recommend it
if you like this podcast and yeah, I've been on
a guest on it a few times now. And yeah
I am on the Snoopy Snoopy Verse episode, so do
check that out. Uh, and thank you guys so much
for listening. If you're enjoying the show and you want
to leave a rating or review, ay, they Hey, I

would love that. I read all of them and they
make me happy.

Speaker 5 (46:11):
And Uh.

Speaker 1 (46:13):
If you have an answer to this week's mystery animal,
sound game or question or picture of your pet, you
can write to me at Creature feature Pod at gmail
dot com. And thank you so much. Through to the
Space Cossics for their super awesome song ex Alumina. Creature
features a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts like the

one you just heard, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or Hey guess what.

Speaker 3 (46:40):
Wherever you listen to your favorite.

Speaker 1 (46:41):
Shows and people happy, Creature Criminal Times, enjoy it. See
you next Wednesday.

Speaker 5 (46:51):

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