Close-up of the prehistoric mammal, Leptictidium


Extraordinary Leptictidium fossils have been found that tell us they ate lizards, insects and small mammals and even that they had fur. Large hind legs indicate they were bipedal, however scientists have puzzled over whether they hopped like kangaroos or ran like chickens. A long, bare tail acted as a counterbalance and a mobile snout helped Leptictidium to sniff out its prey. Three different species have so far been discovered. It's most probable that they became extinct when their forest habitat gave way to open grasslands.

Scientific name: Leptictidium

Rank: Genus

Common names:

graceful weasel

Watch video clips from past programmes (3 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


The Leptictidium can be found in a number of locations including: Europe. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

Eocene epoch Eocene epoch
The Eocene began as a time of global warming, with temperatures across the planet soaring. Forests thrived and trees grew even in polar regions.

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Exceptional preservation Exceptional preservation
Normally, only the hard parts of animals and plants - shell, bone, teeth and wood - are preserved as fossils. However, every now and then conditions permit the preservation of soft parts and create treasure houses of information for palaeontologists.


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Mammals
  5. Leptictida
  6. Pseudorhyncocyonidae
  7. Leptictidium