Gargantuan guinea pig ancestor was a tusk fighter

Gargantuan guinea pig ancestor was a tusk fighter
Gargantuan guinea pig ancestor was a tusk fighter

Dr. Philip Cox, of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at the University of York in Britain, and colleagues reported an analysis of the bite strength of the largest rodent that ever lived on Earth in the edition of the Journal of Anatomy. The animal used its huge front teeth to forage and defend itself in much the same way as elephants do today. The huge rodent is estimated to have weighed 2,200 pounds.

Josephoartigasia monesi was originally discovered in the San José Formation in Uruguay by Alvaro Mones in 1966. The remains indicate the animal was 10 feet in length and five feet high. Genetic analysis indicates that the animal was most closely related to modern guinea pigs. The rodent’s incisors were 11 inches long.

The bite strength analysis indicates that the animal could bite with a similar force that modern tigers can. The researchers consider the teeth to have been capable of exerting as much as three times the force of a tiger bite. The placement of the incisors and the shape of the skull show that the animal fought with its teeth as well as using the tusk-like incisors for uprooting food. This is the largest ancient rodent discovered to date and lived between two million years ago and four million years ago.

People in South America farm guinea pigs for the fur and meat and have for centuries. Imagine if a clone could be made of a guinea pig that was as big as a bison. Possibly, the clone could be modified to have less fearsome teeth.


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