On the island of Minorca found fossils of a giant rabbit


On the small island of Minorca, which is a popular destination for European tourists of all, the researchers extracted the fossil skeleton of a huge rabbit. The latest analysis, published in the "Journal of vertebrate paleontology" reported that the new find was discovered on the coast of Spain. This huge rabbit with a well chosen name King Rabbits Minorca (Nuralagus rex), weighed 12 kg, it is about ten times larger than its cousin, the extinct species (Alilepus sp.), Who lived on this continent and in six more modern European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus ).

When the study’s lead author Dr. Josep Quintana (Josep Quintana) Instiuta of Paleontology in Spain, realized that he had discovered, he was engulfed in amazement. "When I found the first bone, I was 19 years old and I did not realize that this bone is. I thought it was a bone of a giant turtle island of Minorca!"

Royal Rabbit lived about 5.3 million years ago and may be one of the oldest and most well-known of the existence of "the rulers of the island" among mammals. Such changes in the size of the animals on the islands may be the result of reducing the amount of food or a lack of predators on the mainland. On the island of Minorca, view Nuralagus rex lived with several other species of vertebrates. One of the main rabbit were neighbors: bat (Rhinolophus cf. Grivensis), a large dormouse (Muscardinus cyclopeus), and the aforementioned giant tortoise (Cherirogaster gymnesica). In the case of type Nuralagus rex achieve giant size contributed to the lack of predators.

Quintana and his colleagues found that this giant rabbit also lost his ability to jump. Long elastic spine inherent rabbits mainland has not been observed in the species N. rex, and was replaced by a short, a stiff spine, which hardly allowed to make the leap. "I think that N. rex was a rather awkward a walking rabbit. Imagine a beaver out of water" - explained Quintana.

Instead, this rabbit was most likely a digger looking for roots and tubers to eat. In addition, due to the lack of predators and their needs beware Nuralagus rex rabbit lost visual acuity and hearing. The animal has decreased the size of the orbit and the size of the auditory organs, thereby reducing the size of the eyes and ears. Some admit that this rabbit had to have huge ears, but it is not so; N. rex had relatively small ears for its size.

Dr. Mary Dosan (Mary Dawson), a researcher rabbits in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, who did not participate in the analysis, noted the following: "In all my long history of 40 years, most of the family rabbit had almost the same size as the known our modern family members. now open on the island of Minorca complemented the history of the giant rabbit korotkonogo weight of 20 feet. " Dr. Brian Kraats (Brian Kraatz), another expert commented as follows: "How many times has shown an evolution, strange things happen in the islands. Quintana and his colleagues demonstrate the best that these rodents with long ears did not survive biologically, as many of the we thought. "

What will follow the opening of this huge rabbit? The authors of the study will examine it from the point of view of paleoistorii, and then ... Glory? Quintana so busy with his new finding that says N. rex a possible candidate for the mascot of the island. "I would like to use N. rex to attract students and visitors to the island of Minorca!"

Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter

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