Body size is correlated with virtually every morphological, physiological, and life-history trait in mammal species. As a consequence, estimates of body size of fossil species are often used for paleoecological reconstructions. Characters used as proxies for body mass in extinct species include teeth, skull, and skeletal measurements. We show that the body-mass estimates of extinct species from living taxa can be misleading and depend largely on the morphological variable selected as a proxy for body mass. We also discuss statistical tools that are available to assess the accuracy of body-mass estimates in extinct species. Here, we focus on the revision of the mass estimate of the giant Miocene fossil rodent Phoberomys pattersoni (Venezuela), the 2nd largest rodent ever reported, with an estimated body mass between 436 and 741 kg. This is far beyond the range of average body masses in living rodents, which vary from several grams to 40 kg. We conclude that body mass of Phoberomys was most likely overestimated. The species P. pattersoni likely weighed between 220 kg and 280 kg, the mass of a horse or a large antelope.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 91 • No. 1