Scientists are arguing about exactly how big the mightiest rodent to walk the Earth was.
The rat-like beast is dubbed Josephoartigasia monesi. It leapt into the headlines in January when Uruguayan experts said it weighed just over a tonne.
Their estimates were based on a massive skull found on a beach in Uruguay’s River Plate region. The skull was dated to some four million years ago.
The fossil measures 53cm and has gigantic teeth several centimeters long.
But if Virginie Millien of McGill University, Montreal, is right, J. monesi’s estimated mega-size is horribly wrong.
She wrote an article last month in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. In the article Millien said the authors were wrong to try to calculate J. monesi’s body mass by drawing a comparison with rodents alive today.
According to Millien’s calculation's, J. monesi was “certainly the largest rodent ever described” but weighed in at no more than 350kg. That would make it about as big as a medium-sized horse.
By comparison, the biggest rodent alive today is the capybara, which can reach 60kg.
Despite its terrifying teeth, the creature was a peaceable herbivore that ate aquatic plants.
(STAFF WRITER, WITH AFP)
1. rodent n.
齧齒目動物 (nie4 chi3 mu4 dong4 wu4)
例: The farmer has a lot of rodents in his barn.
2. estimate v.t.
估計 (gu1 ji4)
例: We're trying to estimate the damage.
3. calculation n.
推測 (tui1 ce4)
例: Jimmie's calculation was way off.
4. herbivore n.
草食性動物 (cao3 shi2 xing4 dong4 wu4)
例: Deer are herbivores.
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