Stories tagged huge

OK, it's not Friday. But pretend it is, and I'll post a Science Friday video anyway, k? Science Friday
Science FridayCourtesy Science Friday
In honor of Thanksgiving (kinda)....
"Visit Robert Sabin's pumpkin patch: he has been growing giant pumpkins for over ten years. But these pumpkins just aren't meant for the pie pan: Sabin says they're more like children than fruit to him. He raises his pumpkins for competition--the heavier, the better. Does his top pumpkin have the heft to win the Long Island Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Hicks Nurseries? We'll find out."

Like this, maybe: but way bigger.
Like this, maybe: but way bigger.Courtesy nao-cha
A boulder in Uruguay has recently yielded the remains of a 2000-pound extinct rat. Well, maybe not a rat, exactly, but “capybara” doesn’t summon quite so effective of an image, and “giant beaver” has its own issues. The fossils, at any rate, come from what has now been declared the largest rodent ever to roam the earth: 2000 pounds, and about nine feet from its buckteeth to the tip of its stubby tail – bigger than a bull.

The largest rodent living today is, of course, the 140-pound capybara, a semi-aquatic, South American monstrosity. The previous record holder for “largest rodent” was also from South America, and weighed in at a measly 1500 pounds. 1500 pounds is bigger than me, but hardly anything special next to its one-ton cousin. I expect the fossils of the old record holder will be thrown out, or ground up and put on someone’s driveway.

The gargantuan rat-thing would have lived alongside giant ground sloth, Volkswagen Bug-sized armadillos (glyptodonts), and massive “Terror Crane” birds (the SMM has examples of all three in the Dinosaurs and Fossils gallery, if you’re interested). It is most likely that the creature was a vegetarian, and it may have used its huge teeth in much the same way as a modern beavers do. Alternatively, says one researcher, the teeth may have been used for fighting – little is known about the giant rodents still, and, while large size often works as its own defense, the creature would have also shared its habitat with predators like saber-toothed cats. When in doubt, I always say, pick the most action packed explanation.

Paleontologists are still not sure how the other species tolerated living with such a large rat, but are optimistic that further research will satisfactorily illuminate the situation.