Between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago, members of a genus of otters called Vishnuonyx lived in the major rivers of southern Asia.
- Fossils of these now extinct otters were first discovered in sediments found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Now, a newly found fossil indicates it had travelled as far as Germany. The discovery has been described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
- 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 a 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.
- This is the first discovery of any member of the Vishnuonyx genus in Europe; it is also its most northern and western record till 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.