FunNature & AnimalThey find skeletal remains of giant rats

They find skeletal remains of giant rats

roedores-gigantes-g In an excavation in eastern Timor, a team of archaeologists has unearthed the bones of the largest rat that has ever lived, weighing more than 6 kilograms , larger than a cat. The excavations have uncovered 13 species of rodents, 11 of them new to science.

Carbon dating shows that these large rodents became extinct from the area only between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago. "The clearing of forests for agriculture was probably the cause of the extinctions, and this could have happened after the introduction of metal tools," explained Ken Aplin, researcher at CSIRO (Australia) and co-author of the finding published in the journal Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History . In fact, although most of Timor today is arid, in the past it was covered by lush jungle.

"Eastern Indonesia is a hot spot for rodent evolution, " says Aplin. "Rodents represent 40% of the diversity of mammals in the world, and are key elements of ecosystems, due to their role in soil maintenance or seed dispersal," adds the researcher, who stresses that safeguarding their biodiversity Animals is as important as protecting whales or birds.

The largest living rats known today inhabit the rainforests of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, reaching 2 kilograms in weight.

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