Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nuralagus rex

Illustration courtesy Meike Köhler

King-sized disapproval! Scientists have discovered evidence of an 26 pound, prehistoric species of rabbit, dubbed Nuralagus rex, which sounds like something you'd do to its belly.


The team has just announced the discovery of Earth's biggest known rabbit species, an oddly unbunny-like giant dubbed Nuralagus rex—"the Minorcan king of the hares."

The 26-pound (12-kilogram) prehistoric species was about six times bigger than the common European rabbit, found on most continents, according to an analysis of several bones. Study leader Josep Quintana is no stranger to giant Minorcan rabbit fossils, though it took a while before he knew exactly how big a find he'd uncovered.

The animal, which lived about three to five million years ago, had several "odd" features that have never before been seen in rabbits, living or extinct, according to the study.

For one, the giant rabbit's "short and stiff" vertebral column meant it couldn't bunny hop. And the relatively small sizes of sense-related areas of its skull suggested that the animal had small eyes and stubby ears—a far cry frommodern rabbit ears (see picture.)

The newfound rabbit's "roly-poly, tanklike" appearance and weird anatomy may have arisen because of its stress-free lifestyle, Kraatz added.

That's because the megarabbit had no predators on Minorca—a luxury that allowed the species to evolve to be bigger and more sedentary he said. Modern rabbits are small, spry, and have sharp vision to escape predators.

Read more at the NatGeo site.

19 comments:

muneezz said...

My hubby sometimes says to me as I'm leaving for my morning walk or run, "Why 'go for a run' if nothing is chasing you?"

I can scarcely imagine my little 3 & 4 pound bunnehs being evolutionarily related to this giant -- though they are champeen loungers/lazy-buns!

Rabbits' Guy said...

One or two live under my bed and come out at night - I think!

Casper said...

Something the article didn't mention, was the way they moved. It did say they couldn't hop, but the way they moved about was more like a clumsy beaver.

BTW Sunki disapproves of his ancestors being compared to beavers, clumsy or not.

Kat said...

Imagine the THUMPS!!!

Fleetie said...

Well if Nuralugus Rex was 12kg, or 6 times "bigger" (I'll take that to be by mass, since for it to be by length would be absurd; it'd be way over 12kg then), then by length it should be about (cube root of 6) times bigger by length, width and depth.

The cube root of 6 is alightly over 1.8. So N.Rex should only be about 1.8 times longer than a 2kg (just over 4lb) bunny, if everything else is still in proportion.

So the depiction in that picture is way exaggerated.

On the other hand, I could've got my maths wrong, for I am but a stoopid hoomin.

But no, thinking about it, it is not at all uncommon for French Lop rabbits to be over 12kg, and they are about double the length of smaller breeds of bunny. So 12kg is nothing special for a bunny's size, even these days.

Nevertheless, I wonder whether N.Rex could disapprove 6 times harder than a modern bunny.

I doubt it. Disapproval is quite an advanced thing to do, so maybe diosapproval hadn't developed (well) back then.

I think Queen Cinnamon could have taught these super-buns a thing or two about disapproval!

(Strokes and ear-rubs and nose-bonks to Cinny!)

Tiberia said...

"roly-poly tank like"....how can I fit that into normal conversation today? If I had an N. Rex, I'd name him Tank...

Tom said...

That rabbit's dynamite!

Lisa said...

Saw this. Looks more like a capybara.

Fleetie said...

Having thought some more, I doubt these proto-bunnies would've needed to disapprove, because 5 million years ago, there weren't any stoopid hoomins with Ideas Above Their Station.

Fleetie said...

NO, I just remembered: French lops can exceed 12 POUNDS, not 12kg!

But my observation about N.Rex probably being about 1.8 times longer than a 2kg bunny still stands, I think.

janet2buns said...

@Fleetie: Flemish Giants can weigh upwards of 20 lbs., so it really depends on which breed you're using in your math calculations. I aspire someday to be owned by a Flemmie...*sigh*....

You are of course correct in that N. rex had no need to disapprove. Mercifully, hoomins not evolved yet. Today's bunnies no doubt wish that we were back in the primordial ooze, where we belong!

Phoebesmom said...

my owner is a flemish giant. she is one and already weighs 13.5 pounds

anonymous said...

So Minorca is the remains of Bunny Atlantis? Al Arnab

Fleetie said...

Wow, Phoebesmom, you'd better make sure you don't do anything to earn yourself a THUMPing! Your owner sounds like she could be truly dangerous, especially when she's all grown up!

johnrox91 said...

My dh said I could get a flemish giant IF I could train it to use a urinal.....


there are possibilities here

Tiberia said...

Hey, my Rhinelander Emmett Lee (he's a southern gentlebun) weighs 13 pounds..is he fat? Well, no...he's just big!

abigailemily said...

I approve of this.

Marissa Doyle said...

My French Lop Maple was over 15 lbs...and yet my present little 7 pounders thump louder than he did. I think it's more a matter of attitude than body mass.

Bunny Atlantis--hee!

Ijon Tichy the Nth said...

@Fleetie... depending on where we live in the colonies, we'll be thought that indeed we used to live along side giant bunnies ;-), dinosaurs and such.