A new research, which the journal Scientific Reports recently published, provides some insight into the life and habits of an oversized otter that lived in China about six million years ago. According to scientists, this interesting mammal had a very strong bite and could have been a fierce predator. They reached this conclusion upon studying the fossilized skull of this animal. We know that the otters we have today only eat fish and shellfish, but it seems like their ancestors had a chewing ability similar with that of a bear.
The study says that the giant extinct otter was able to even crush bones and shells. It ate rodents and birds, among other things. Its scientific name is Siamogale melilutra, was about as big as a modern wolf and weighted over 50 kg. It had much stronger jaws, apart from being much bigger than otters today.
The ferocious ancient giant otter
According to doctor Jack Tseng, from the University at Buffalo and leader of the research, the team started by conducting some research on the jaw models of the fossils of those ancient otters. Then, they did the same type of engineering research on the jaws of ten living species of otters. They found that in comparison with the present-day otters, those ancient ones had jaws six times stronger.
However, there aren’t many records when it comes to the fossils of those animals. The few skull fragments have been found on the site of Shuitangba. This place was once a lake or a swamp and it’s famous for hosting hundreds of plants and animal fossils in perfect condition.
According to this ancient animal’s jaw and size, scientists supposed that it was an exceptional predator. Currently, there are 13 species of otter all over the world. They are carnivorous mammals which usually live in or around water.
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