Giant Otters Unearthed In China

First Posted: Jan 24, 2017 03:23 AM EST

Fun fact: Otters hold hands when they sleep so that they do not float away from one another.

Fun fact: Otters are not as adorable then as they are now.

Reuters reported that scientists were able to unearth fossils of otters as large as wolves in the warm and humid wetlands of southwestern China, where they frolicked in rivers and lakes around 6.2 million years ago. This species is called the Siamogale melilutra.

This species weighed around 110 pounds. It is said to be around six and a half feet long, making it remarkably larger than its cousins today. Denise Su, a curator of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, said, "Siamogale melilutra reminds us, I think, of the diversity of life in the past and how many more questions there are still to answer. Who would have imagined a wolf-size otter?"

The wolf-sized beast is said to be the largest otter species ever recorded. Live Science added that it is around twice the size of the modern-day South American giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) and about four times the size of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). Researcher Xiaoming Wang of the National History Museum of Los Angeles County in California also noted that this extinct species is larger than all living otters known.

Researchers found the otters' remains back in 2010, after a Chinese and a U.S. field team found a skull in the Shuitangba quarry in southwestern China. Wang shared, "The skull was unlike [that of] any other animals found so far, and that's when we realized that this is something unique and important."

The interest in this particular fossil site where the gigantic otter was found stemmed from an important prehistoric ape skull that was found in the area. Since then, other fossils were found, including, but are not limited to elephants, rhinos, tapirs, deer, beavers, crocodiles and water birds.

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