Archaeologists Find Remains of Giant, Dog-sized Rats

July 28th, 2010 - 10:54 pm ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

rat July 28 (THAINDIAN NEWS) The remains of ancient, dog sized rats, which were three times the size of the largest species alive today, were found by archaeologists in a remote cave in Australia known as the East Timorese cave.

These huge rats are believed to have weighed around 13 pounds and would have been about the size of a Jack Russel Terrier. The details of the finding were given in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History this week, according to Ken Aplin from the government science agency CSIRO.

During the years of research which was done in East Timor, there were 13 different types of rodent found. These particular rats would have lived in the area until maybe one to two thousand years ago, and were most likely made extinct by “agricultural practices and habitat clearance.” (AFP) “Large-scale clearing of forest for agriculture probably caused the extinctions, and this may have only been possible following the introduction of metal tools,” said Aplin.

Although Aplin admits that it is very hard ot convince people to try and save a rat population from becoming extinct, he insists, “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.”

Aplin remains optimistic that perhaps an unknown species of rodent may still be alive in East Timor, since much of the land in very mountainous and therefore inaccessible to human destruction. “Although less than 15 per cent of Timor’s original forest cover remains, parts of the island are still heavily forested, so who knows what might be out there?” he added.

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