Archaeologists have discovered fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor, with the largest up to 10 times the size of modern rats. The work is part of the From Sunda to Sahul project which is looking at the earliest human movement through Southeast Asia. Researchers are now trying to work out exactly what caused the rats to die out.
Dr. Julien Louys holds the jaw bone of a giant rat species discovered on East Timor, up against a comparison with the same bone of a modern rat.
Archaeologists with The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor, with the largest up to 10 times the size of modern rats.
Dr Julien Louys of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, who is helping lead the project said these are the largest known rats to have ever existed.
"They are what you would call mega-fauna. The biggest one is about five kilos, the size of a small dog,"
"Just to put that in perspective, a large modern rat would be about half a kilo."