• IASbaba
  • September 21, 2021
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Part of: Prelims and GS-III- Biodiversity 

Context Newly found fossils of Vishnuonyx have been found in the area of Hammerschmiede, which is a fossil site in Bavaria, Germany.

  • Between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago, members of a genus of otters called Vishnuonyx lived in the major rivers of southern Asia. 

Key takeaways

  • Fossils of these now extinct otters were first discovered in sediments found in the foothills of the Himalayas. 
  • Now, the newly found fossil indicates it had travelled as far as Germany.
  • The newly discovered fossils have been named Vishnuonyx neptuni, meaning ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’.
  • 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.

About Vishnuonyx

  • Vishnuonyx were mid-sized predators that weighed, on average, 10-15 kg. 
  • Before this, the genus was known only in Asia and Africa.
  • Vishnuonyx depended on water and could not travel long distances over land. 

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.

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