2,000 yr-old monster rodent

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 10:00

Sydney: The remains of a giant rodent, believed to be the biggest among the species ever to have scurried on the earth nearly 2,000 years ago, have been found in East Timor.

Bones found during cave excavations in East Timor in Southeast Asia showed the rat would have weighed about six kg. Thirteen other rodent species, 11 of which are new to science, were also found, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The present day`s biggest rats weigh about two kg and live in rainforests in the Philippines and New Guinea.

Carbon dating of the bones showed the biggest rat may have roamed around 2,000 years ago. Only one of the smaller species found there survives today.

Each of the islands of eastern Indonesia is known to have evolved it own collection of rats.

"Rodents make up 40 percent of mammalian diversity worldwide and are a key element of ecosystems, important for processes like soil maintenance and seed dispersal. Maintaining biodiversity among rats is just as important as protecting whales or birds," Ken Aplin, a scientist in the discovery team, said.

IANS



First Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 10:00

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