Prehistoric otter with wicked teeth, powerful jaws once roamed Earth

An unusual skull discovered at a dig in southwestern China in 2010 has now been identified as that of a fierce, wolf-like animal that roamed the Earth more than 6 million years ago, weighing about 100 pounds, with large, sharp teeth and powerful jaws.

The newly discovered species is a prehistoric otter and an ancestor to the modern-day otter, but it was twice as big as its modern cousin, according to the study published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.

The discovery was part of a collaboration between the Yunnan Cultural Relics and Archaeological Institute in Yunnan Province, China and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The extinct animal was named Siamogale Melilutra because it shares characteristics with modern otters and badgers, said Denise Su, curator of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

“This species has a mix of characteristics of both these animals in its skull and its teeth,” Su explained.

It’s one of the largest otters ever discovered, about “the size of a modern wolf,” she said.

The fossilized skull was found in Yunnan Province and included a cranium and lower jaw that is much larger than that of the modern-day otter.

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