Neptune’s Vishnu otter: Fossil discovery reveals ancient animal travelled 6,000 km to Germany

admin November 8, 2021
Updated 2021/11/08 at 10:45 AM

Vishnuonyx, a genus of otters, existed in the main rivers of southern Asia between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago. Fossils of these now-extinct otters were discovered in strata uncovered in the Himalayan foothills. It may have travelled as far as Germany, according to a recently discovered fossil. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology published an article on the finding.

Vishnuonyx neptuni, which means “Neptune’s Vishnu,” was found by researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Zaragoza. The species was found in 11.4-million-year-old strata in the Hammerschmiede region, a fossil site in Bavaria, Germany, that has been researched for nearly 50 years, according to a news statement from the University of Tübingen.

This is the first time any member of the Vishnuonyx genus has been discovered in Europe, and it is also the species’ most northern and western record to date.

Vishnuonyx were medium-sized carnivores that weighed about 10-15 kg on average. The genus was previously exclusively recognised from Asia and Africa (recent findings show that Vishnuonyx reached East Africa about 12 million years ago, according to the release).

Vishnuonyx was a water creature that couldn’t move great distances on land. How did it make it all the way to Europe? The researchers believe that its 6,000-kilometer journey was made feasible by the geology of 12 million years ago when the Alps were still being created. The Alps and the Iranian Elbrus Mountains were separated by a vast ocean basin, making it simpler for the otters to travel between them.

According to researchers, ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’ first arrived in southern Germany, then Ancient Guenz, and finally the Hammerschmiede.


Source: The Indian Express

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