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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2014 > Article Detail

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Rodents of Unusual Size

To the Editors:

In the article “On the Trail of the First Placental Mammals,” by Maureen A. O’Leary in the May–June issue, a figure caption refers to the ancestral placental mammal, which is still unknown to the fossil record, as “rodent-sized.” This wording is exceedingly imprecise.

Present-day rodents range in size from extremely small mice, weighing less than 10 grams, through squirrels, woodchucks, and beavers, and up to the largest living rodent, the capybara, one example of which appears to have exceeded 90 kilograms in weight. At least one extinct rodent, Josephoartigasia monesi, reached the size of a rhinoceros.

Ronald H. Pine
University of Kansas


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