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.
- 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.
- 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.