Phoberomys

Name: Phoberomys ‭(‬fear mouse‭)‬.
Phonetic: Foe-be-rom-mis.
Named By: Kraglievich‭ ‬-‭ ‬1926.
Synonyms: Dabbenea pattersoni.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Rodentia,‭ ‬Dinomyidae.
Species: P.‭ ‬insolita‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬burmeisteri,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬bordasi,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬minima,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬pattersoni.
Diet: Herbviore.
Size: Total length 4.5‭ ‬meters long,‭ ‬1.5‭ ‬meters tall,‭ ‬around‭ ‬700‭ ‬kilograms.
Known locations: ‭South America.
Time period: Tortonian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Few specimens.

       The description of an almost complete Phoberomys pattersoni in‭ ‬2000‭ ‬led to worldwide headlines of Ratzilla‭ (‬after the Japanese kaiju Godzilla‭)‬.‭ ‬These rare remains allowed for one of the most accurate size estimates of this genus which led to it being considered as one of the largest rodents ever to live,‭ ‬although despite the more popular name of Ratzilla,‭ ‬Phoberomys is thought to have been more like a guinea pig than a rat.‭ ‬The high crowned molars of Phoberomys indicate that it was a grass grazer rather than a browser of vegetation.
       Phoberomys was many times bigger than the largest rodent alive today,‭ ‬the capybara‭ (‬Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris‭)‬.‭ ‬It is speculated however that Phoberomys may have been semi aquatic like the capybara,‭ ‬although the water would have been a very dangerous place to be since giant crocodiles like Purussaurus are known to have lived in South America during the Miocene.‭ ‬Additional threats could have come from the larger and more powerful phorusrhacid birds like Brontornis and Kelenken.‭ ‬Smaller predators such as the sabre-toothed marsupial Thylacosmilus would have been more of a threat to smaller juvenile Phoberomys.
       Although we can accurately reconstruct P.‭ ‬pattersoni,‭ ‬the earlier species P.‭ ‬insolita may have actually been bigger,‭ ‬although the lack of total remains for this species makes it hard to be certain.‭ ‬Today another rodent called Josephoartigasia is considered to be even bigger than Phoberomys.

Further reading
- The Anatomy of the World's Largest Extinct Rodent - Science 301, 1708 (2003), DOI: 10.1126/science.1089332. - Marcelo R. SaŽnchez-Villagra, Orangel Aguilera & Ines Horovitz - 2003.



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