Prehistoric rodents turned out to be the size of a pony

(ORDO NEWS) — Russell Engelman, a paleontologist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, has developed a new method for accurately sizing ancient giant rodents, showing that previous studies have overestimated them.

So, it was believed that a distant relative of modern capybaras Josephoartigasia monesi weighed about 9 centners and was the size of a bison.

According to new estimates, it is comparable to modern ponies. An article about this was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“Several extinct rodents from the Dinomyidae and Neoepiblemidae clades were many times larger than any living rodent.

However, their exact parameters are controversial, and the authors differ in their estimates due to problems with extrapolation and the choice of a specific model, Engelman writes.

Preliminary estimates for the two largest extinct rodents Phoberomys pattersoni and Josephoartigasia monesi range from 230 to 700 kg for the former and from 350 to 2600 kg for the latter.

Here, I estimate body mass in large, extinct rodents using the width of the occipital condyle a reliable measure of body size in mammals and a data set that circumvents many of the problems that previous researchers have encountered.

In this case, the body weights of rodents are much lower than before: 108–200 kg for P. pattersoni and 480 kg for J. monesi…

Giant rodents like Phoberomys and Josephoartigasia inhabited the swamps of South America 2-8 million years ago.

According to Uruguayan paleontologist Ernesto Blanco, who discovered the skull of Josephoartigasia in 2008, these giant rodents had a powerful bite that was three times stronger than that of modern tigers, potentially allowing the ancient rodents to defend themselves against predators such as the direbird and saber-toothed marsupials.

Well, the size comparable to a pony is still quite a lot, incomparable even with modern large capybaras.


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