6.2 million years ago, otters the size of wolves used to roam the swampy shallows of what is now China’s Yunnan province
An international team of researchers led by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County recently analyzed fossils found at a site in Yunnan province indicating that this newly-discovered species of giant otter weighed as much as 50kg (110lbs) and measured up to two meters (6.5ft) in length — nearly double the size of modern otters.
The prehistoric creatures have been scientifically named Siamogale melilutra. Their reconstructed skulls reveal a combination of both otter-like and badger-like characteristics with enlarged cheek teeth and strong jaws used for crunching down on hard objects.
“Siamogale melilutra reminds us, I think, of the diversity of life in the past and how many more questions there are still to answer. Who would have imagined a wolf-size otter?” said Denise Su, Cleveland Museum of Natural History curator of paleobotany and paleoecology.
Ain’t that the truth. In 2015, researchers discovered fossils in Hebei province of a “strange” new species of bat-winged dinosaur that was called “an evolutionary dead end.”
[Images via Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County]
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