The Otters constitute a Subfamily (Lutrinae) of aquatic carnivores closely related to Weasels, Badgers, and Skunks (Family Mustelidae). They have elongated, torpedo-shaped bodies with long, powerful tails. The head is flat and broad, the legs are short, and the feet are webbed. Some species have claws. There are seven extant genera: the Small-clawed otter of East and Southeast Asia (Amb/onyx); the Clawless otters of Africa (Aonyx); New World river otters (Lontra); Old World river otters (Lutra); the Smooth-coated otter of Asia (Lutrogale); the Giant otter of South America (Pteronura); and the Sea otter (Enhydra). Some taxonomists place the New World river otters and the Smooth-coated otter in the genus Lutra.
Some molecular evidence indicates that otters diverged from the weasel lineage about 20 million years ago. Although the Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) reaches a total length of nearly 5 feet and the Giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) sometimes stretches to 6 feet, fossil otters were occasionally larger. One Eurasian genus (Enhydri-odon) from the Late Miocene to the Late Pleistocene (15 million-100,000 years ago) includes the largest known, a species with legs as long as a leopard's. A related North American species (Enhydritherium terraenovae) from Florida was about the same size.
The four cryptids in this section (on four different continents) may actually represent unknown species of otters. A hypothetical marine otter (Super-Otter) has also been proposed as an explanation for some Sea Monster reports, and misidentified river otters may occasionally be responsible for certain Freshwater Monster sightings.
Ahui'tzotl; Dobharchu; Iemisch; Wait-
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