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Biggest Rodent Ever Used Its Front Teeth Like Elephant Tusks

By    |   Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 07:43 AM

The biggest rodent that ever lived was not a New York City rat, but instead lived in South America about three million years ago, had the body mass of a buffalo and used its front teeth like an elephant's tusks, according to researchers

In a study that was published in the Journal of Anatomy this week, researchers at the University of York and The Hull York Medical School used CT scanning to make an virtual reconstruction of the skull of the specimen Josephoartigasia monesi from the largest rodent fossil bones ever discovered, according to a university statement.

Josephoartigasia monesi is a relative of guinea pigs – super sized – weighing a little more than a ton when it roamed South America, according the researchers.

Dr. Philip Cox, of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, a joint research center of the University's Department of Archaeology and the medical center, used computer modeling to determine how strong the rodent's bite could be.

"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 Cox. "This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks."

Cox said he found that the bite forces were similar to that of a tiger – about 1,400 Newtons. The teeth would have been able to withstand three times the force, noted The Independent.

The Josephoartigasia monesi skull fossil was discovered in Uruguay in 2007. It still remains the largest rodent fossil ever found, according to the BCC News. Researchers believe the rodent lived in the Pliocene period, a warm era of the Earth when large mammals were relatively abundant, including the first mammoths.

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes the largest rodents today, the capybara, can be found in Central and South American, weigh 77 to 146 pounds and stand about 50 to 60 centimeters at the shoulders.


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The biggest rodent that ever lived was not a New York City rat, but instead lived in South America about three million years ago, had the body mass of a buffalo and used its front teeth like an elephant's tusks, according to researchers
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Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 07:43 AM
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