CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRISTIAN DARKIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Phoberomys pattersoni. Artist's impression of a giant rodent, Phoberomys pattersoni, based on fossil remains found at Urumaco, in Venezuela in 2000. The guinea pig-like creature is estimated to have been one metre tall, three metres long and to have weighed 700 kilograms, around 14 times the weight of the largest living rodent, the capybara. P. pattersoni lived during the Miocene epoch, around 8 million years ago. At that time, the area around Urumaco was covered in a giant river system with wetlands, grasslands and lagoons. The giant rodent may have been semi-aquatic, living in large herds on the wetlands, and feeding on grasses using its tough incisor teeth.
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