Scientists believe they have discovered a distant cousin of the guinea pig that would have been nearly buffalo-sized.
If you’ve seen the “Princess Bride” you might remember this exchange:
Buttercup: We’ll never succeed. We may as well die here.
Westly: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt – no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
Buttercup:Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.’s?
Westly: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.
While the “Fire Swamp” may have been a fictional place of film, it appears that R.O.U.S’s may very well have roamed the Earth until their extinction about 2 million years ago. Sorry Westly.
The finding of the “beast” was made by researchers from the University of York as well as the University of Montevideo in Uruguay. They recently published their findings in in the Journal of Anatomy. The experts believe that Josephoartigasia monesi, which is closely related to modern guinea pigs, used its massive teeth almost as an elephant uses tusks to defend itself and dig for food. The single fossilized skull of this rodent was found in Uruguay in 2007.
“We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said the study’s lead author Dr Philip Cox, an anatomist at Hull York Medical School and the University of York.
The researchers using computer simulations following a CT scan of the skull determined that the creature’s jaw could generate a force of nearly 1,400 Newtons putting it on par with a tiger in full bite.
The animal would have been found in South American during a the Pliocene period where the warm weather would have made large mammals plentiful and also was the period when the first mammoths roamed the earth.