Otters are North Pacific Ocean-native marine mammals that we always see as adorable furballs, but once you know its ancestors used to be the size of a wolf, you might not see it as something cute after all.
Scientists have unearthed fossils believed to belong to a prehistoric, wolf-sized otter that once roamed south-western China some 6.2 million years ago. The remains were found in Shuitangba quarry in 2010 by a team of Chinese and American paleontologists. They gave the newly discovered otter species the name Siamogale melilutra, the fossils of which included a complete cranium and lower jaw, teeth and bones of the limbs.
The skull found in China’s Yunnan province was crushed millions of years ago but scientists have used advanced scanning to have them reconstructed digitally. It was then discovered that the skull and teeth resembled those of an otter or a badger.
The newly discovered otter species was named Siamogale melilutra, the fossils of which included a complete cranium and lower jaw, teeth and bones of the limbs.
According to paleontologists, who reported their findings in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, the otter weighed around 50Kg (110 lbs.) and had a length of up to two meters. This means that it was bigger than all of its existing cousins today, which include honey badgers and minks.
Team member Dr. Xiaoming Wang said that the discovery of the otter fossil could help scientists answer questions about the animal’s relationships. Furthermore, it has made them ask more questions such as why the animal reached that size, how it ate its meal and how it moved about when in the water or on land. These questions will be answered with more studies, Dr. Denise Su, another member of the team, suggested.
The largest living otter species of today, the South American giant river otter.
The largest living otter species of today is the South American giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) which could weigh up to 32 kilograms. Otters are carnivorous mammals that belong to the subfamily Lutrinae. This family includes martens, weasels and, as previously mentioned, badgers and minks.
10 Beautifully Transparent Animals That We Had No Idea Existed
What kind of sorcery is this?
The animal kingdom is never short of strange-looking species that never fail to amaze us. As if these scary creatures that live in the dark depths of the ocean are not enough to wow us, we find more reasons to be awe-struck.
You see, while some animals are outright freaky, some just look utterly incredible, and well...transparent. Yes, you read it right - transparent. We can literally see through the skin and scales of these animals and see what's within, behind, or beneath them.
You might notice that most of these transparent creatures live under the sea and wonder why is that. Well, according to Sönke Johnsen of Scientific Americans, it all boils down to something called "self-preservation." Because these animals do not have teeth, toxins, or anything that can protect them from predators, nature awarded them with customized versions of invisibility cloaks!
This Unbelievably Enormous Alligator was Filmed Casually Wandering Around Florida
Imagine crossing paths with this big guy!
Humans are generally wary of large predators like alligators and crocodiles - thanks to the numerous movies and video clips that depict them as savage, man-eating carnivores. That is why when a certain giant alligator nonchalantly sauntered around a wildlife reserve in Florida in the United States, many were inevitably awed.
Kim Joiner was able to capture the anxiety-inducing moment when Humpback walked right past her. Estimating its length at around 12-feet, she confirmed feeling a bit "nervous" as the large 'gator passed by.
Meet "Humpback," an unbelievably enormous alligator that was spotted strolling around Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County, Florida.
Scientists Use Robotic Baby Monkey to See How A Troop Of Monkeys React
A fake baby monkey with camera infiltrates a crew of Langur monkeys.
In a new BBC show called Spy in the Wild, the secret life of wild animals was captured using robotic animals fitted with ultra high definition cameras. The results give us amazing glimpse of the most intimate, thrilling and remarkable scenes ever witnessed in nature.
In this particular video, Spy in the Wild follows a fake baby monkey with camera eyes as it infiltrates a crew of Langur monkeys.
The curious monkeys take their turns inspecting the weird animal. Until one clumsy monkey drops the robot and then they all think it's dead. Then they gather around and have a little wake for the accidental death of the poor 'baby'.
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