To improved understand S. melilutra, Tseng and colleagues compared a antiquated critter to a vital counterparts.
The group used computed tomography (CT) scans of skulls to emanate 3-D, computerized models display how a jaw skeleton of 10 of a 13 famous vital otter class hook underneath satirical forces. (One singular otter was left out since researchers could not find skeleton to scan, and dual others were released due to their likeness to other species).
The group also done a indication for S. melilutra, regulating CT scans of fossils as a guide. The work enclosed a painstaking, digital reformation of a cranium formed on a dejected fossil.
A comparison of all a otter jaw simulations suggested a linear attribute between jaw rigidity and animal size: Smaller otters had sturdier jaws. But S. melilutra was an outlier: The large mammal’s modeled jaws were 6 times sturdier than expected. This strength, interconnected with a creature’s size, would have done it a challenging hunter.
“At a time that a otter lived, a area where a stays were found enclosed a engulf or a shoal lake surrounded by evergreen timberland or unenlightened woodland,” pronounced Su, a paleoecologist during a Cleveland Museum of Natural History and one of a leaders of a Shuitangba Project that detected a hoary otter. “There was a opposite nautical fauna during Shuitangba, including fish, crab, mollusks, turtles and frogs, as good as many opposite class of H2O birds, all of that could have been intensity chase for S. melilutra.”
In this soppy and forested environment, a otter’s jaw energy could have given it an corner over predators that could not hunt in H2O or pound a shells of nautical prey.
“Carnivores are famous to develop absolute jaws, mostly for a purpose of enormous a skeleton of their prey,” pronounced Wang, a curator in a Vertebrate Paleontology Department of a Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “In a shoal engulf of South China, it’s probable that an contentment of large clams gathering these hulk otters to acquire their singular traits, including their abrasive teeth and strong jaws.”
Wang, along with Su, White and Ji, was a member of a investigate group that initial reported a find of a hulk otter’s fossils in January.