Rodents Unknown

The Order Rodentia contains more species, about 2,300, than any other mammalian order and includes the Squirrels (Sciuridae), Beavers (Castori-dae), Pocket gophers (Geomyidae), Kangaroo rats (Heteromyidae), Jerboas (Dipodidae), Rats and Mice (Muridae), Scaly-tailed squirrels (Anom-aluridae), Dormice (Myoxidae), Old World porcupines (Hystricidae), New World porcupines (Erethizontidae), Guinea pigs (Caviidae), Agoutis (Dasyproctidae), and Spiny rats (Echimyidae), as well as a few other families. The most prominent rodent feature is the single pair of large gnawing teeth or incisors in each jaw. Certain rodent groups have specialized in burrowing, swimming, climbing, or gliding. All rely heavily on their sense of smell. Some are well-known pests.

Rodents apparently originated in Asia during the Paleocene, 60 million years ago. The largest known rodent was the fossil North American Giant beaver (Castoroides ohioensis), which reached a length of 7 feet 6 inches. The world's largest living rodent is the Capybara (Hy-drochaeris hydrochaeris) of South America, which grows to 4 feet 6 inches.

464 ROCKY

Rodent cryptids are few and far between. A Giant Beaver surviving into historical times is the most straightforward. Others involve mice masquerading as the Devil, an underground Scottish rat, marmots confused with ants, and a rodentlike British animal that may actually have been a coati.

Mystery Rodents

Devil's Hoofmarks; Earth Hound; Giant Beaver; Golden Ant; Peel Street Monster

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