A team of European palaeontologists, in which the University of Zaragoza participates, describes a new species of extinct otter

Researchers from the Universities of Tübingen (Germany) and Zaragoza have discovered a kind of otter, previously unknown, in strata of 11.4 million years in the

A team of European palaeontologists, in which the University of Zaragoza participates, describes a new species of extinct otter

Researchers from the Universities of Tübingen (Germany) and Zaragoza have discovered a kind of otter, previously unknown, in strata of 11.4 million years in the deposit of Hammerschmiede (Ausburg, Germany).

The new species, published in the International Journal Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, is called Vishnuonyx Neptuni, which means Netria Vishnu de Neptune, in honor of the God of Roman mythology of water.

Alberto Valenciano, postdoctoral paleontologist Juan de la Cier-Formation of the University of Zaragoza, has pointed out that "this type of extinct otter was previously known only in a few deposits of Asia and Africa, and represents the first evidence that these forms lived in Europe during Middle Miocene ".

The research team is performing excavations in Hammerschmiede under the direction of Professor Madelaine Böhme from the Center Sixnberg for human evolution and the paleorapian of the University of Tübingen.

As reported on Sunday, the University of Zaragoza has reported, it has already recovered more than 130 different species of extinct vertebrates from river deposits. Many of these species are adapted to life inside and around water.

However, the detection of an otter in Bavaria was unexpected, since previously the representatives of this genre were only known from regions outside Europe. The Hammerschmiede deposit, located in the Allgäu region, became worldwide in 2019 by the discoveries of Simio Bípedan Danuvius Guggenco.

Otters are medium-sized semi-cachuatic mustélids than live throughout the planet, except for Antarctica. The evolutionary history of the 13 current species of otters is not yet clear.

Vishnu's otters (Vishnuonyx), thus called by the God of Hinduism Vishnu, were predators of medium-sized with an estimated weight between 10-15 kg that were discovered for the first time in Indian sediments in the foothills of the Himalayas. They lived between 14 and 12.5 million years ago in the main rivers of South Asia.

Recent findings show that Vishnu otters arrived east of Africa about 12 million years ago. The discovery in the sediments of Hammerschmiede who now have 11.4 million years is the first evidence that they also arrived in Europe, possibly extending from India to the whole Old World.

Like all otters, Vishnu otter depends on water; You can not travel long distances by land. Its huge dispersion of more than 6,000 kilometers in three continents was possible thanks to the geographical situation of 12 million years ago: the newly formed mountain ranges from the Alps in the west to the ELBRUS Iranian mountains in the east separated a large oceanic basin from the Ocean Tetis, the precursor of the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

This created the paratethys, a vast body of eurasian water, which stretched from Vienna to beyond the current Sea of Aral in Kazakhstan. 12 million years ago, it had only a close connection with the Indian Ocean, the so-called Araks' in the area of the current Armenia.

The researchers assume that Netria Vishnu de Neptune followed this connection to the west and reached southern Germany, by the ancient Guenz River through the Emerging Delta of the old Danube west of what is now the city of Vienna.

At the Visualization, Scanning and Replication Center, recently founded in the Geosciences Department of the University of Tübingen (Germany), researchers used computed tomography methods to visualize the finest details of the fossil dental structure.

This technique allowed the precise observation of very small structures in the dentition of otter. The pointed cusps, the cutting blades and the restricted grinding areas suggest a diet based mainly on fish.

Ecologically, Netria Vishnu of Neptune is more similar to Euroasian otter (Lutra) or the giant otter of the Amazon (pteronura) than to the Pacific Marine Otter or African and Asian otters, both groups prefer crustaceans or seafood al seafood Fish in your diet.

Updated Date: 21 September 2021, 19:06

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