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Nov 09, 2015 06:58 AM EST

Fossils of Dog Sized Rats Spotted in East Timor


Fossils of what is believed to be the World's largest rat ever were found on East Timor in Southeast Asia, Modern readers reports.

Researchers say the fossils belong to seven distinct species that are up to ten times larger than the average modern rat.

A team of archaeologists led by Dr. Julien Louys from the Australian National University's School of Culture, History, and Language discovered the giant rat fossils.

 "They are what you would call mega-fauna," Louys explained. "The biggest one is about five kilos, the size of a small dog. Just to put that in perspective, a large modern rat would be about half a kilo."

Previous research shows evidence of human life in East Timor dating back to about 46,000 years ago. This proves that early humans coexisted with these rats for thousands of years.

Louys also suggested that the early humans considered these rodents as food.

"We know (humans) are eating the giant rats because we have found bones with cut and burn marks," he said.

"The reason we think they became extinct is because that was when metal tools started to be introduced in Timor, people could start to clear forests at a much larger scale," he said.

Dr Louys said the team is hoping to find out when humans first moved through the islands of Southeast Asia, how they were doing it and what impact they had on the ecosystems, Science daily reports.

"We're trying to find the earliest human records as well as what was there before humans arrived," Dr Louys said.

"Once we know what was there before humans got there, we see what type of impact they had."

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