Tags: extinct | giant | otter | predator

Extinct Giant Otter Was Powerful Predator, Scientists Say

Image: Extinct Giant Otter Was Powerful Predator, Scientists Say

Scientists say the extinct giant otter has jaws six times as strong as would be expected. (Mauricio Anton)

By    |   Thursday, 09 November 2017 05:52 PM

An extinct giant otter that once inhabited China could chew like a bear and probably preyed on rodents and birds, according to new research.

The study published in the journal Scientific Reports said the otter, known as Siamogale melilutra, lived 6 million years ago and was the size of a wolf, the BBC reported.

Engineering simulations using models made from otter jaw fossils gave scientists new information that the otter’s jaws were probably six times as strong as would be expected given their size and living otter species.

The fossils studied were incomplete, but were well preserved in a swamp or lake in the middle of dense woodland. Other fossils found in the area showed there would have been ample prey in the area for the giant otters, Cleveland Museum of Natural History paleoecologist Denise Su said, the BBC reported.

Otters today eat mainly fish and shellfish, but the extinct species would have had a strong enough jaw to crush mollusk shells and bones, according to Motherboard. The researchers speculated that the presence of many large clams might have led the otters to develop the stronger teeth and jaws, but that they may have then moved on to prey on other, non-sea creatures.

“The abundance of aquatic and near-water environments in that region may have allowed aquatic carnivorans such as Siamogale to become the dominant predators of their ecological communities,” the scientists wrote in the report, according to Gizmodo.

The findings suggested the extinct giant otter may be most similar to a smaller living otter, Aonyx, which is only 20 to 50 pounds but can crush crab shells with its teeth, Gizmodo noted.

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An extinct giant otter that once inhabited China could chew like a bear and probably preyed on rodents and birds, according to new research.
extinct, giant, otter, predator
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2017-52-09
Thursday, 09 November 2017 05:52 PM
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