Feature: “Remains of wolf-like ancient otter discovered in China”

Remains of wolf-like ancient otter discovered in China

An artist's illustration of how the Siamogale melilutra might have looked.

Hong Kong (CNN)The modern day otter might not be the most fearsome creature to stalk the Earth, but the discovery of a species that lived 6.6 million years ago in southwestern China suggests its ancestor cut a much more intimidating figure.

With “wolf-like” proportions, and weighing roughly 100 Ibs, the creature — whose skull was excavated in Yunnan province — would have been twice the size of today’s otters.
The newly discovered species, Siamogale melilutra, had large, powerful jaws and enlarged teeth, according to the scientists responsible for excavating and studying a cranium pulled from a geological site in 2010.
“From the beginning of the discovery, we realized that it could be a new species because of its huge size,” Professor Ji Xueping told CNN. “I’m not an expert in carnivores, but I knew, when it was taken out of the ground, that this was something new.”
Ji led the Chinese field team as a part of a collaboration that included the Yunnan Cultural Relics and Archaeological Institute and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
The discovery included an almost complete cranium and lower jaw, which in its fossilized form required virtual reconstruction using CT technology in Beijing.

The otter skull fossil found in Yunnan is considerably bigger than its modern cousins.

The findings showed that the animal belonged to one of the otter’s oldest and most primitive lineages. The otter family goes back at least 18 million years.
Traits shared with the modern-day badger were also discovered, accounting for the species’s name: “Melilutra” refers to meles, which is Latin for badger. Their likeness raises questions about the possible existence of a common ancestor.
“It’s a funny, semi-aquatic creature, that would be between 1.5 to 2 meters in length,” said Ji, who believes that further excavation projects could reveal more creatures of such proportions across China and Asia.
These hulking otters of yore would have fed on large shellfish, crushed between their powerful jaws.
“This finding is significant because it tells us something new about the otter family. But why it’s so big? We just don’t know — that’s a big question for further study,” Ji said.
The study was published this week in Journal of Systematic Paleontology.


I chose this article because I am drawn by the title. Even though my interests are not really knowing about fossils, this article makes me want to read it. Since I like animals, and it is weird to know that there were wolf-like otters, since otters are known to be cute and small.

The lead is already interesting to start with. It makes the readers, especially me, want to read about it. The use of 5W+1H is already good, and the structure too. Making it from the most general thing to the more specific object, which is the subject itself (a wolf-like otter). The use of the quotations are well used. It is to show the opinion of a certain person. Also, even though there are some unfamiliar words, the writer still explains what it means, which makes it a more understandable article for the people reading it. It is an interesting and fascinating article to read.

Thank you


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