Wolf sized otter found, according to articles in ScienceDaily 23 January 2017 and ABC News and BBC News 24 January 2017. An international team of scientists in the USA, France, and China have studied the fossil of a giant extinct otter named Siamogale melilutra. It was found in Yunnan Province, Southwestern China, and is dated as 6.2 million years old. This is not the oldest fossil otter, but it is the largest.

The fossil consists of a complete cranium, mandible (jaw bone), teeth and some other parts of the skeleton. From these the researchers estimate the animal could have been two metres long and weighed up to 50kg (110pounds). One of the researchers, Denise Su, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, commented: “Who would have imagined a wolf-size otter?” The largest living otter is the South American giant river otter, which can weigh up to 32kg (70 pounds).

The fossil otter had powerful jaws and large teeth. Xiaoming Wang, head of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, suggested to the BBC: “I think it used its powerful jaws to crush hard clams for food, somewhat like modern sea otters, although the latter use stone tools to smash shells. If Siamogale melilutra was not smart enough to figure out tools, perhaps the only option left was to develop more powerful jaws by increasing body size.”

The fossil was found at a site containing many mammal and bird fossils including elephants, rhinos, tapirs, deer, beavers, crocodiles and water birds including ducks, swans and cranes. Denise Su also commented: “Siamogale melilutra reminds us, I think, of the diversity of life in the past and how many more questions there are still to answer.”

ABC, BBC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: We don’t know how smart Siamogale melilutra was, but the comment attributed to head of vertebrate palaeontology at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum certainly tells us how smart he isn’t … definitely dumb.  Think about it. If this giant otter was not smart enough to crack open shellfish by bashing them with rocks, and didn’t have teeth strong enough to do it, it either had to find something else to eat or die out. Being too stupid or too weak to open shellfish will never change the animal’s growth genes and make it grow bigger.

Denise Su is correct in that the fossil record does show a rich diversity of animal life in the past, with many giant animals that have either become completely extinct, or who have left much smaller descendants. As such, the fossil record of giant animals is a reminder the world is going downhill and losing diversity, not evolving upwards and gaining diversity. This is exactly what you would expect from reading God’s Word, which tells us God made a very good world, filled with a rich variety of animal and plant life, but that world has been devastated by human sin and God’s judgement.

Evidence News vol. 17, No. 2
7 March 2017
Creation Research Australia