Fossil hunters have uncovered the greatest rodent that ever lived -- a one-ton behemoth that bestrode the swamplands of South America some four million years ago. Graphic Credit: AFP/GUSTAVO LECUONA
"Mammoth Capybara” Discovery In South America
In a recent document released by Institute of Physics of Montevideo, Gustavo Lecuona helps to give life to the largest fossil rodent ever discovered here on the Oblate Spheroid.
The paleobiological reconstruction of this newly-identified species is the greatest-known member of the order Rodentia and by comparison makes the largest rodent living today, the 60-kilo (132-pound) capybara versus the 1,008-kilo (2,217-pound) Josephoartigasia monesi, look like a pygmy shrew.
The newly discovered skull is considerably larger than a modern-day rat - Image Credit: Blanco
The reconstruction was based upon skull fragments (above) found at an archeological dig along the coast of Uruguay.
This excerpted from AFP via YAHOO! -
King of the rats weighed one tonne
AFP, Paris - Tue Jan 15, 7:10 PM ET
Fossil hunters have uncovered the greatest rodent that ever lived -- a one-tonne behemoth that bestrode the swamplands of South America some four million years ago.
The skull of the extraordinary beast was found in a broken boulder on Kiyu Beach on the coast of Uruguay's River Plate region, palaeontologists reported in a study on Wednesday.
Measuring a whopping 53 centimetres (21 inches), the skull has massive incisors several centimetres long.
Despite this fearsome look, the creature was not carnivorous and looked more hippo-like than rat-like.
Its small grinding teeth suggest it had only weak masticatory muscles for chewing food, and probably tucked into soft vegetation, fruit and squidgy aquatic plants in deltas, the experts say.
Its food intake must have been vast, given its huge size.
The newly-found species has been dubbed Josephoartigasia monesi, in honour of Alvaro Mones, a Uruguayan palaeontologist who specialised in South American rodents.
Authors Andres Rinderknecht of the National Museum of Natural History and Anthropology and Ernesto Blanco of the Institute of Physics in Montevideo say there are several ways to estimate J. monesi's size.
The most reliable figure is an average of 1,008 kilos (1.008 tonnes, 2,217 pounds) which is derived from comparing the giant to its closest living relatives, called hystricognath rodents.
The previous rodent record-breaker, Phoberomys pattersoni, was found in Venezuela in 2003 and was estimated at 700 kilos (1,540 pounds) in its prime.
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