05 February 2015

Giant Pamaltelan Rodent

the following has been inspired by a BBC article shared by Dr Moose on the Gloranthan G+ community

The largest ever rodent used its huge front teeth like tusks, defending itself and digging with them instead of just biting food. The bull-sized cousin to the guinea pig died out around two million years ago. It has been surmised that its bite was as strong as a tiger's - but its front teeth were built to withstand forces nearly three times larger. This suggests that its 30cm incisors were much more than eating implements.

Only a single fossilised skull has been found belonging to this 1,000kg South American rodent, known as Josephoartigasia monesi. Unearthed in Uruguay in 2007, the animal lived in the Pliocene period - a warm era when large mammals were relatively abundant, including the first mammoths. It remains the largest rodent ever discovered.

Researchers believe the front teeth must have been used for tasks that required extra muscles, like the neck, as well as the biting action of the jaw muscles themselves. "We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators," said an anatomist. "This is very similar to how a modern-day elephant uses its tusks."

the extinct rodent (right) pictured in comparison with a human and a pacarana, its closest living relative
Josephoartifasia, or the bull-cavy by its Pamaltelan name, would naturally find its place in Pamaltela amongst the other Pliocene- and Pleistocene-like creatures.

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