The Desmostylia are an extinct order of marine mammals comprising four genera, known from late Oligocene and Miocene fossil records. Dental and skeletal form suggests desmostylians were amphibious herbivores dependent on littoral (seashore) habitats. Their closest living relatives are members of the Perissodactyla and Tethytheres, which includes Proboscidea (elephants) and Sirenia (manatees).
Desmostylians grew to 1.8 metres in length and are thought to have weighed more than 200 kilos. The type species Desmostylus was first described by American paleontologist Othniel Marsh in 1888. Desmostylus derives from the Greek words desmos, meaning "bond" and stylos, meaning "column" or "pillar."
- Introduction to Desmostylia
- Desmostylus (in Dutch)