Report

The Anatomy of the World's Largest Extinct Rodent

Science  19 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5640, pp. 1708-1710
DOI: 10.1126/science.1089332

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Abstract

Phoberomys is reported to be the largest rodent that ever existed, although it has been known only from isolated teeth and fragmentary postcranial bones. An exceptionally complete skeleton of Phoberomys pattersoni was discovered in a rich locality of fossil vertebrates in the Upper Miocene of Venezuela. Reliable body mass estimates yield ∼700 kilograms, more than 10 times the mass of the largest living rodent, the capybara. With Phoberomys, Rodentia becomes one of the mammalian orders with the largest size range, second only to diprotodontian marsupials. Several postcranial features support an evolutionary relationship of Phoberomys with pakaranas from the South American rodent radiation. The associated fossil fauna is diverse and suggests that Phoberomys lived in marginal lagoons and wetlands.

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