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    • According to a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, a newly found fossil indicates that Vishnuonyx had travelled as far as Germany. 


    • Researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Zaragoza have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown species, which they have named Vishnuonyx neptuni, meaning ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’. 
      • The species was discovered from 11.4-million-year-old strata in the area of Hammerschmiede, which is a fossil site in Bavaria, Germany that has been studied for about 50 years. The dispersal of Vishnu Onyx otters from the Indian subcontinent to Africa and Europe about 13 million years ago. The star (HAM 4) shows the position of the fossil site in Hammerschmiede. (Nikos Kargopoulos via University of Tübingen)

    Image Courtesy: IE

    • This is the first discovery of any member of the Vishnuonyx genus in Europe.
      •  It is also its most northern and western record to date.
    • Vishnuonyx were mid-sized predators that weighed, on average, 10-15 kg. Before this, the genus was known only in Asia and Africa (recent findings show that Vishnuonyx reached East Africa about 12 million years ago).
    • Vishnuonyx depended on the water and could not travel long distances over land. 
    • 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.
    • Members of a genus of Vishnuonyx lived in the major rivers of southern Asia between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago, 
      •  Fossils of these now extinct otters were first discovered in sediments found in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

    Source: IE