Meet Josephoartigasia, The Largest Rodent That Ever Lived
What has tusk-like front teeth, is the size of a buffalo, and has a bite as strong as a tiger? Josephoartigasia monesi of course, the largest rodent that ever lived.
Josephoartigasia may be closely related to guinea pigs, but its massive size does not suggest as much - it is thought to have weighed a metric ton (over 2,000 pounds). It also stood at 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and measured nearly 10 feet (3 meters) in length.
Stomping around South America approximately three million years ago, Josephoartigasia boasted both enormous strength and size. Not only did it equate to the size of a buffalo, but the bizarre species may have used its 11-inch-long (30 cm) teeth just like an elephant uses its tusks, researchers say.
"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. This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks," Dr. Philip Cox, of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at the University of York, explained in a statement. (Scroll to read on...)
Back in 2007, a single fossilized skull was discovered in Uruguay. This skull, which measures 20.8 inches (53 cm) long, has now undergone a CT scan to determine just how powerful its bite really was.
The research team came up with a force of around 1,400 Newtons - about the same as that of a tiger's merciless jaws.
Astonishingly, the analysis indicates that the incisors of this record-sized rodent would have been able to withstand almost three times that amount of force.
According to the research, published in the Journal of Anatomy, the now-extinct animal lived during the Pliocene period - a warm era when large mammals were relatively abundant, including the first mammoths.
It remains the largest rodent ever discovered.
For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).