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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Fossils of Dog-Sized Rat Species Found in Southeast Asia

Fossils of Dog-Sized Rat Species Seen in Southeast Asia

(Photo : Getty Images) Fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor were discovered. A team of archaeologists with The Australian National University found the largest rats, once lived in Southeast Asia, ever known to have existed with 10 times the size of modern rats.

Fossils of seven giant rat species have been discovered in East Timor.  A team of archaeologists with The Australian National University (ANU) found the largest rats ever known to have existed. They are about 10 times the size of modern rats, according to Fox News. These distant relatives of rats evidently once lived in Southeast Asia.

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ANU's Julien Louys, who lead the project, said that the rats are called mega-fauna and the biggest one weighs five kilos - the weight of a small dog. He said that their findings show that only half a kilo or 2.2 pounds is the size of the large modern rat.

Louys mentioned that East Timor is the location of the earliest records of humans dated 46,000 years ago. East Timor is a tiny country that earned its independence in 2002. He also mentioned that judging from the cut and burn marks on the bones, early humans likely co-existed and ate the giant rats.

These findings were presented last month to the Meetings of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology in Texas. From Sunda to Sahul is a project that is attempting to trace the movement of earliest human through Southeast Asia. Research studies is reportedly ongoing into what may have caused the rats to die out and what role humans might have played in their demise.

There is previous research showing evidence that humans in East Timor co-existed with giant rats for thousands of years. But there has been no explanation of how the supersized rats suddenly disappeared. Their extinction may be related to the introduction of metal tools in Timor. People, who started to clear out forests at a much larger scale, possibly also cleared out the rats.

University Herald reported that the team is hoping to discover more on the islands of Southeast Asia about early humans activities and their impact on the ecosystems. They are also curious about what was there before humans arrived.

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