Giant Otter species discovered in China

WHILE THE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS IN CHINA FOCUSED ON THE ROOSTER, ANOTHER CHINESE ANIMAL MADE HEADLINES THIS WEEK, AS SCIENTISTS DISCOVERED A NEW SPECIES OF OTTER…BUT IT'S NOT THE CUTE AND CUDDLY THING YOU'D EXPECT!

THIS WAS A PREHISTORIC OTTER – AT 100 POUNDS, IT WAS TWICE THE SIZE OF TODAY'S SPECIES WITH LARGE TEETH AND POWERFUL JAW! IN FACT, THIS ANCIENT OTTER COUSIN LOOKED MORE LIKE A WOLF!  SCIENTISTS KNOW THIS BECAUSE THEY DISCOVERED A WELL-PRESERVED SKULL OF THE NEW SPECIES, WHICH THEY HAVE CALLED SIAMOGALE MELILUTRA (SI-MO-GALE MEE-LO-LU-TRA). THE SKULL IS OVER 6 MILLION YEARS OLD, SO AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, IT'S VERY FRAGILE.

TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SKULL WITHOUT DAMAGING IT, DR DENISE SU OF CLEVELAND’S OWN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY… HAD TO RECONSTRUCT IT WITH A COMPUTER USING 3D IMAGES FROM A TYPE OF X-RAY CALLED A CT SCAN.

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SCIENTISTS LIKE DR. SU ARE LEARNING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OUR VERY OLD PLANET EVERY DAY BY UNCOVERING THESE ANCIENT ANIMAL SPECIES.


Instructional Links


Website Article: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Denise Su | Biography of paleontologist on discovery team

Website Article: NPR News, Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant Otter Species In China | Includes image of skull

Website Article: Environmental Science, What is a Paleontologist?

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