Giant Rodent Used Tusks Just Like An Elephant

First Posted: Feb 03, 2015 10:18 PM EST

Scientists at the University of York and The Hull York Medical School (HYMS) have discovered the largest rodent that ever lived--a creature that may have used its front teeth just like an elephant used its tusks.

Josephoartigasia monesi, a rodent that would have closely resembled a guinea pig, lived in South America an estimated 3 million years ago with an estimated body mass of 1,000 kg or similar to the size of a buffalo.

Study authors used computer modeling to help determine just how forceful the creature's bite must have been. They also made a virtual reconstruction of the animal's skull and subjected it to finite element analysis, otherwise known as an engineering technique that helped predict stress and strain via a complex geometric object.

"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," Dr Philip Cox, of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, a joint research centre of the University's Department of Archaeology and HYMS, said in a news release. "This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks."

He found that as the bite forces were around 1,400 N or similar to that of a tiger's, the creature's incisors would have been able to withstand almost three times the force.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the Journal of Anatomy.

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