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Saturday, February 11, 2017

A giant prehistoric otter

A giant prehistoric otter Animals, science news (5)

Otters are such playful little creatures, they’re often featured in children’s books but their prehistoric ancestors were somewhat more intimidating. Paleontologists have discovered that a wolf-sized otter with a powerful jaw lived in the swampy waters of southwestern China some 6.2 million years ago. A specimen’s smashed skull, jaw, and teeth were found along with several limb bones in the soft sediment of the Shuitangba coal mine in Yunnan province. After CT scans digitally restored the skull’s shape, the researchers calculated this ancient otter was about twice as big as its largest modern cousins, stretching six feet long and weighing about 110 pounds. The remains also revealed the prehistoric creature had badger-like teeth, suggesting it’s a previously unknown species. “It has the skull of an otter but shares many dental similarities with badgers, which is why we called it melilutra” Latin for “badger otter” researcher Xiaoming Wang tells It’s unclear why this ancient badger-otter grew so large, but it’s likely the mollusk eater needed its crushing jaws to crack tough shells.
 A giant prehistoric otter Animals, science news, Foxi news
 A giant prehistoric otter Animals, science news, Foxi newsA giant prehistoric otter Animals, science news, Foxi news

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