What is Anguillea?
Thousands of years before humans arrived in the Caribbean, lower sea-levels exposed a large
landmass called “Anguillea” that connected the islands of Anguilla, St. Martin/St. Maarten, and St.
Barthelemy. Anguillea, which existed until the end of the Pleistocene epoch roughly 20,000 years ago,
was home to many of the same species that are still present on the islands today, but also home to some
animals that have since gone extinct.
Why did the Amblyrhiza die out?
The largest and most notable of these extinct species
is the giant rodent, Amblyrhiza inundata. As sealevels
rose at the end of the Pleistocene, the animal’s territory became inundated and this reduction in its island habitat is believed to have led to its ultimate extinction, hence the rodent’s scientific name “Inundata.”
How big was the ‘Giant Rat’?
From its fossilized bones, paleontologists estimate that the giant rodent, which had wide incisor teeth and sharp claws, may have weighed up to more than 200 kg (440 lbs)! At that size, the massive creature would have been as much as three times as large as the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), the largest rodent
known on earth today!