Published on: September 21, 2021



What is in news : A newly found fossil indicates that otters called Vishnuonyx had travelled as far as Germany. The discovery has been described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Details :

  • Researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Zaragoza have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown species that resembles OTTER, which they have named Vishnuonyx neptuni, meaning ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’.
  • The species was discovered from a 11.4-million-year-old strata in the area of Hammerschmiede, which is a fossil site in Bavaria, Germany that has been studied for about 50 years, the University of Tübingen said in a press release.
  • This is the first discovery of any member of the Vishnuonyx genus in Europe; it is also its most northern and western record till date.
  • Vishnuonyx were mid-sized predators that weighed, on average, 10-15 kg. Before this, the genus was known only in Asia and Africa (recent findings show that Vishnuonyx reached East Africa about 12 million years ago, according to the release).

How did it travel as far as Europe: According to the researchers, its travels over 6,000 km were probably made possible by the geography of 12 million years ago, when the Alps were recently formed. These Alps and the Iranian Elbrus Mountains were separated by a large ocean basin, which would have made it easier for the otters to cross it.