According to scientists, the largest rodent ever probably used its huge front teeth teeth as its tusks, digging with them instead of just biting food.
The bull-sized sibling to the guinea pig passed away around 2 million years back.
Based on a CT scan of subsequent computer simulations and scan of its skull, the bite was discovered to be as strong as a tiger – but its front teeth were built to withstand forces nearly thrice as much.
This suggests that its 30cm incisors were much more than eating implements.
This suggests that the 30 cm incisors were much more than eating implement. Researchers from York in the UK and Montevideo in Uruguay published the work in the Journal of Anatomy.
It remains the largest rodent ever discovered.
CT tests suggests that the animal’s green incisors were found to be much stronger than needed for biting. Predictions of the force exerted when biting was large, much akin to a tiger’s jaw. But the big incisors of the rodent seemed to be “overengineered” even for that type of strain – and would probably stand up to much stronger forces.
This led the researchers to come to the conclusion that the front teeth may have been used for tasks which require more muscles, such as necks, as well as the biting action of the jaw muscles themselves.
“We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said the study’s first author Dr Philip Cox, an anatomist at Hull York Medical School and the University of York.
“This is very similar to how a modern-day elephant uses its tusks.”