An archeological team conducting excavations in East Timor have stumbled upon a remarkable discovery. Largest rat found in East Timor was a true Titan in comparison with the modern rat.
Researchers from the Australia National University were scavenging through the islands of Southeast Asia, hoping to discover some clues about the earliest human arrivals. Instead of discovering some traces that would shed some light upon early human settlements, researchers had to settle with rats.
The archeological endeavor discovered and catalogued over 7 new species of rats that lived about 44.000 years ago. These giant rodents weighted up to five kilograms, and are considered to be key elements in what researchers have named mega fauna. Compared to his modern relatives, which weights around 500 grams, those rats were dinosaurs by comparison. From initial measurements, scientists were able to theorize that the mega rodent was 10 time bigger that a common barn rat.
Still, the largest rat found in East Timor prompted another issue. According to previous archeological findings, East Timor was inhabited by humans 46.000 years. If we put the two numbers side by side, we can clearly see that humans and giant rats coexisted. Now, the big question is, what led the giant rodents to extinction? Was it the early human settlers? Or was it something in the air?
Evidence would point out to human interference. It is a known fact that humans, after discovering their first tools, started to hunt and eat the giant rodents. This fact is backed up by another archeological discovery. Rat bone fragments were discovered at the digging site, and a lot of them had a couple of strange indentations on them. Scientists believe that these marks are consistent with the use of a sharp tool, used to rip the meat of the bone.
The giant rodent population became extinct nearly 1000 years ago. Scientists believe that is was metal that led to the rat’s death. Nearly 1000 years ago, man would discover that they can use metal in order to build smarter and more durable tools. They hypothesized that the rat population became extinct when man used metal tools in order to clear out larger portions of the forest.
Although, those are not the fossils they were looking for, the Australian researchers believe that even these rat bone fragments could hold a clue about what happened to the earliest inhabits in East Timor.