Biggest. Rats. Ever. Fossils Found in East Timor.

Being the size of small dogs didn't stop the extinct rodents from ending up as meals for humans.

Stuart Hay, ANU

Archaeologists working in East Timor have discovered ancient rat fossils, with the largest being 10 times the size of a modern rat.

Upon discovering a species that would likely have had an easier time with its dinner than Pizza Rat, the Australian National University researchers that found these specimens claim the extinct creatures are the largest rats to have ever lived.

The college’s website quotes Dr. Julien Louys of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, one of the rat-finding project’s leaders:

“They are what you would call mega-fauna. 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 (about one pound).”

Dr. Julien Louys holds the jaw bone of an extinct rat species discovered on East Timor (left), in comparison with the same bone (right), taken from a modern rat. 

Stuart Hay, ANU

Dr. Julien Louys says that the earliest records of humans on East Timor date back about 46,000 years, and that the antediluvian East Timorese people lived alongside the rats—and ate them—a revelation the ANU team made when finding rat bones with burn and cut marks.

Originally tracking the time frame of the first human arrival on East Timor, the ANU archeologists that found the rodent fossils theorize that the introduction of metal tools—which allowed for accelerated forest clearing—may have also brought about the end for the large rats about a thousand years ago.

Related Tags