One Ton Rat

The fossil skull, with a modern rat for comparisonNow for those of you who knew/know me as Rat, I have to confess a love for all things rodent.  Over the years some of my bet friends have been rats..  bless!    However, this news report did make me re-access if I would have been so happy at sharing my life with one of these monsters!  Though on teh other hand, it would be better than a Rottweiler!    Meet my friend GodzilRat….     I first thought that One Ton Rat was a type of chinese soup…  but after reading this I realised my mistake…   Enjoy!

Fossil hunters have unearthed the skull of a giant prehistoric rat that roamed South America four million years ago.

The fossilised skull of the largest rodent ever recorded has been described by scientists for the first time. The remains of the one-tonne beast, found in Uruguay, indicate that it would have been as big as a bull. It is thought that the three-metre-long herbivore would have roamed estuaries and forests 2-4 million years ago. The mammal, which is more than 15 times heavier than the largest living rodent, is described in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

 The authors say the animal would have lived alongside carnivorous “terror birds” and sabre-toothed cats. “If you are a rodent you cannot run so well so you would have had to fight with these predators,” said Dr Rudemar Ernesto Blanco of the Institute of Physics in Montevideo, Uruguay, one of the authors of the paper. “It might have reached this size to protect itself.” Fighting giants: The half-metre-long fossil skull was discovered by an amateur palaeontologist in a boulder on the Rio de La Plata coast in the south of the country.

The remains had lain in the Museum of Natural History in Montevideo for three years before being studied and identified as a new species, Josephoartigasia monesi. The pakarana is the creature’s closest living relative It was recognised as a new creature by examining and comparing its teeth with other known species of Josephoartigasia. “Its incisors are extraordinarily large – much larger than any other rodent,” said Dr Blanco. The researchers have speculated that the creature may have used the teeth to cut wood in a similar way to a modern day beaver.

“The other possibility is that they used them for fighting.” The team spent nearly one year estimating the body mass by comparing the skull with other living South American rodents. Most weigh less than 1kg. However, there are exceptions such as the 60kg capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), and the closest living relative of the newly discovered creature: the pakarana (Dinomys branickii).

Artist's reconstruction of the one-tonne beast, showing the fossil in light grey

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