Emerging Science Note/Super Mammal
Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on the world's largest rodent.
CURWOOD: Coming up: environmental protection and national security. The promise of peace parks. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Cynthia Graber.
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| An artist's rendering of Phoberomys pattersoni, a giant rodent, roughly the size of a buffalo, that roamed the banks of an ancient Venezuelan river some 8 million years ago. The illustration was made according to the scientists approximation of what P. pattersoni looked like. (Credit: © Science / Illustration: Carin L. Cain)
GRABER: Scientists recently identified the world’s biggest guinea pig. The rodent called Phoberomys pattersoni lived about eight million years ago along the banks of a massive Venezuelan river that has since run dry. At about 1500 pounds, this guinea pig was roughly as large as today’s buffalo.
Scientists describe it as a huge, strange-looking creature, with a long tail so it could balance on its bent hind legs, and constantly growing teeth. No one knows why the rodent reached this immense size, or why it disappeared. But scientists say it gives a new glimpse into life along ancient tropical South American Rivers.