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Giant prehistoric otter with strong bite once lived in ancient China

via:cnBeta.COM     time:2017/11/10 12:01:32     readed:276


In order to better understand the power of ancient otters, scientists have created a computer model to simulate the jaw pressure when animals bite something.

The model used in the study was created from skull computed tomography and in the case of Siamogale melilutra fossil fragments. One of the most troublesome factors in creating prehistoric otter models is the reconstruction of the skull from the scans of crushed fossil remains.

Scientists compare these data to a model that shows the bite force of 10 current otter species.


Initially, the authors of this study had predicted that the jaws of prehistoric otters have similar characteristics to the jaws of modern species, but they are capable of generating greater force due to the larger size of the extinct animals. The results of this study show a salient feature of the Siamogale melilutra that makes it different from the modern relatives and gives it a surprisingly strong bite force.

Computer simulations of modern otter species show a clear relationship between otter size and their jaw stiffness. Smaller otters find their jaws stiffer, while larger otters are more flexible.

Computer simulations show that the bite force of the larger Siamogale melilutra is almost six times greater than that of modern otters. Astonishingly strong bite force will allow this animal to eat large molluscs, birds and small mammals.


The team believes that the size of this creature in combination with its higher than average jaw strength may make Siamogale melilutra the dominant animal in the southwestern region that lived about 6 million years ago.

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The research results have been published in the "Science Report" magazine.

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