Simbakubwa’s skull is believed to have been as large as a rhinoceros skull.(Artwork Supplied: Mauricio Anton)
Of all the places you could imagine discovering a giant meat-eating mammal, a drawer is probably not one.Key points: Simbakubwa fossils were discovered years before by palaeoanthropologists searching for apes
When it was alive, around 20 million years ago, the animal weighed around 1,500 kilograms with a head the size of a rhinoceros’s.
Researchers say there are millions of unidentified species in museums around the world.
But a pair of researchers from Ohio University have done just that.
Matthew Borths was studying fossils at the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya when he decided to have a poke around.”On a lunch break I decided to pull open some different drawers just to kind of see what else was there,” Dr Borths said.”And one of the drawers I pulled out had this gigantic fossil in it.
“Luckily for Dr Borths — and the world of palaeontology — his area of expertise just so happened to be an order of extinct meat-eating mammals called the hyaenodonta.
While he immediately recognised the lower jaw bone as a hyaenodont, he knew it was from a species that had not been described before.”I was like, ‘how did I not know this was here?’ I felt really responsible,” he said.”
I’m one of the few people on the planet that really cares about this group of animals.”