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In Ethiopia, a lion-sized otter fossil


In Ethiopia, a lion-sized otter fossil

Scientists have discovered a new long-extinct otter in Ethiopia that was the size of a modern-day lion. Weighing about 200 kilograms or 440 pounds, it was the largest otter ever; when it lived with our much smaller ancestors 3.5 to 2.5 million years ago, it rubbed its elbows and probably competed with them for food .One paper describing animals just appeared in the french scientific journal Palevol report.

“Besides its enormous size, its peculiarity is that [isotopes] Its teeth suggest it was not aquatic like all modern otters,” said study co-authors. Kevin OneGeochemist at Columbia Climate Institute Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory“We found that it fed on terrestrial animals, also unlike modern otters.”

Currently, the Asian small-clawed otter weighs 4 to 13 pounds, the South American giant otter can weigh up to 70 pounds, and the North Pacific sea otter can weigh up to 100 pounds. It is known that several giant otters inhabited Eurasia and Africa around 6 to 2 million years ago.Among them, the extinct genus Squalane Best known for its remains, albeit fragmentary, found in many places, especially in East Africa.Newly described species has been named puffer fishafter its discovery in the Lower Omo Valley in southwestern Ethiopia.

Reconstruction of the Otter puffer fish (In background), compared to three existing species, from left to right: the South American giant otter; the sea otter; and an African otter. E. homoensis Occupation of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley at the same time as human ancestors known as Australopithecus (size comparison with modern humans shown here). The inset shows the remains of the otter’s femur and teeth. (© Sabine Riffaut, Camille Grohé / Palevoprim / CNRS – University of Poitiers)

Over the years, the fossils have been discovered by several international excavation teams. The authors of the new study, led by Camille Grohé of the University of Poitiers, estimated the animals’ weight based on the size of their teeth and femurs.

Traditionally, otters Squalane Considered semi-aquatic, it feeds on mollusks, turtles, crocodiles, and catfish, all of which are common in African freshwater environments. Uno tested this idea by analyzing stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon in tooth enamel. Squalane blue crab.

Relative values ​​of stable oxygen isotopes can indicate the habitat occupied by animals. It is speculated that the value of the otter fossil should be close to the value of the hippo fossil or other semi-aquatic animals. Instead, the giant Omo otter is valued similar to terrestrial mammals, particularly big cats and hyenas in fossil Omo deposits.

Carbon isotopes in teeth can provide information about the type of prey an organism consumes.These reveal Squalane blue crab Capable of eating prey that consumes a wide variety of terrestrial plants, from tropical grasses to vegetation of trees.

The authors plan to sample African otter fossils more widely to study the shape and structure of tooth enamel and long bones to understand where these giant otters occupied in past ecosystems and why they went extinct, About 2 million years ago.

Adapted from a press release from the University of Poitiers.




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