Giant lion-sized otter fossil discovered in Africa

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have discovered a fossil species of giant otters in Africa. An article about this was published in Comptes Rendus Palevol.

Otters are a genus of predators related to martens and ferrets. They are adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, and therefore have thick fur, a streamlined body shape, closing ears and nostrils, and swimming membranes. Large South American species can reach a length of 180 centimeters and weigh about 50 kilograms.

Camille Grohe of Columbia University and colleagues have described an otter fossil whose bones have been found in Ethiopia. The age of the find is estimated at three million years.

The species was named Enhydriodon omoensis, “Omo sea otter tooth”, to describe it, scientists from many expeditions dug up bones from many bodies, including several fragments of the skull, teeth and limb bones. During life, the animal had to weigh up to 200 kilograms.

In addition to its huge size, the Ethiopian enhydriodon had another curious feature: after analyzing the composition of stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen in its teeth, scientists came to the conclusion that this beast did not eat fish, turtles and crocodiles, but land mammals, in this regard competing with the ancient hyenas and big cats, also found in the Omo Valley. Basically, herbivores and leaf-eating animals became its prey.

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