When Rodents Rafted Across the Ocean

  • Published: 07 November 2018
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    The best evidence we have suggests that, while Caviomorpha originated in South America, they came from ancestors in Africa, over 40 million years ago. So how did they get there?

    This episode was written by Genevieve Perdue.

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Josephoartigasia monesi reconstruction. Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com and nixillustration.com

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: office-2016.info/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    Lavocat, R. “La syste´matique des rongeurs hystricomorphes et la de´rive des continents.” Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences Series D 269 (1969).
    Merali, Z., and B.J. Skinner. Visualizing Earth Science (2009). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Mones, A., and J. Ojasti. “Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.” Mammalian Species 264(1986).
    Morrison, M.L., Marcot, B.G., and R.W. Mannan. Wildlife-Habitat Relationships: Concepts and Applications, 3rd ed. (2006). Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
    Nowak, R. M. Walker’s mammals of the world, 5th ed. (1991). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    Patton, J. L., Pardiñas, U. F. J., and G. D’Elía. Mammals of South America, Vol. 2, Rodents (2015). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    Scotese, C.R. “A Continental Drift Flipbook.” The Journal of Geology 112.6 (2004).
    Simpson, G.G. 1940. “Mammals and land bridges.” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 30 (1940).
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 930

  • Nathaniel Osterberg
    Nathaniel Osterberg  1 days back


    • mongo moonbladder
      mongo moonbladder  1 weeks back

      I'll always want a capybara... 😁

      • Giovanna Aranda
        Giovanna Aranda  2 weeks back

        eles:"nanana... capybara"
        eu: capivara

        • Daaku Daddy
          Daaku Daddy  2 weeks back

          Capybaras! I'm onto your game!

          • Aaron J
            Aaron J  2 weeks back

            (someone help explain it to me) sooo... why couldn't the common ancestor have derived in Africa and when South America and Africa split, that common ancestor evolved differently on South America and the African ones stayed the same? This would mean the old world rodents evolved before the split, and when it did split they formed the new world rodents. tbh i can picture that more than a rodent rafting across loll

            • HeavyHanded `
              HeavyHanded `  1 months back

              Damn rats were cruising the damn oceans

              • OLD BIRD CHOZO
                OLD BIRD CHOZO  1 months back

                A capybara the size of a horse?!? Wahhhh!?!?!?

                • ChitaRita
                  ChitaRita  2 months back

                  ratatouille confirmed

                  • Rams495
                    Rams495  2 months back

                    Tsunamis probably did this all the time. When you look at the crap that came to the west coast from Japan you can see that stuff can move much further than these would've had to float.

                    • li Hairo
                      li Hairo  2 months back

                      Whos the artist that drew the piece at 1:23 ?

                      • Imaginose314159
                        Imaginose314159  2 months back

                        If they were eating the rafts along way, such as twigs and leaves that would provide some moisture right?

                        • Peusterokos1
                          Peusterokos1  2 months back

                          "Lol I'm Leif Erikson"
                          - some weird fuzzy boi

                          • Chris Waters
                            Chris Waters  2 months back


                            • Wayne's Hammer
                              Wayne's Hammer  2 months back

                              Water pig=police on a boat

                              • OneofInfinity
                                OneofInfinity  2 months back

                                Chinchillas ❤

                                • Jeraboa JumpingMouse
                                  Jeraboa JumpingMouse  3 months back

                                  more proof that rats will get anywhere

                                  • Rob Beecroft
                                    Rob Beecroft  3 months back

                                    Horse sized rodents! Wow... please do an episode about them. And please do an episode about the smallest horses too!

                                    • Clyde Balcom
                                      Clyde Balcom  3 months back

                                      How to get fresh water on the ocean? Rain. Vegetation rafts would be able to hold rainwater.

                                      • Rune scape
                                        Rune scape  3 months back

                                        What if there was giant lily pads or they hitched rides on bigger things.

                                        • LucasWerewolf
                                          LucasWerewolf  3 months back

                                          Its a Huge Guinea pig.

                                          • David Ev
                                            David Ev  3 months back

                                            Yaaaay. Cali is #1. She is the best.

                                            • Diogenes of Sinope
                                              Diogenes of Sinope  3 months back

                                              This theory seems highly unlikely

                                              • Ravi Sanghvi
                                                Ravi Sanghvi  3 months back

                                                So Christopher Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci, did not discover sea route to Americas?

                                                A rat discovered sea route to Americas long ago?
                                                Americas should be celeberating "Rodent Jerry day" every year then.

                                                • Ravi Sanghvi
                                                  Ravi Sanghvi  3 months back

                                                  Can Tom cat win against this huge Jerry?

                                                  • sharkfinbite
                                                    sharkfinbite  3 months back

                                                    Capybara don't look cute. Only you sheltered domesticated people would consider it cute

                                                    • berdeleona
                                                      berdeleona  3 months back

                                                      Why was south america so open to niches?

                                                      • J .K
                                                        J .K  3 months back

                                                        3:43 India was on a mission

                                                        • Katrina Peljo
                                                          Katrina Peljo  3 months back

                                                          Watching this with my pet degu!

                                                          • Sir Dude
                                                            Sir Dude  4 months back

                                                            I think the chain of islands and shallow water is the only theory that even remotely plausible. Not only would it explain the other "sweepstakes colonizers" it far more plausible than a raft of random debris that somehow managed to cross the open ocean in 11-8 days without breaking apart and without the passengers dieing of dehydration and possibly malnutrition. Also how can we be sure that the ocean that is half size of our modern ocean between Africa and south America is the same? I would think that it would be at least significantly different If not completely.

                                                            I understand that this is not fully understood and that PBS Eons is trying to give all the information they can

                                                            • drwnpadilla
                                                              drwnpadilla  4 months back

                                                              You're awesome thank you for your information

                                                              • Whiskey Bravo
                                                                Whiskey Bravo  4 months back

                                                                Given enough time, the unlikely becomes inevitable.

                                                                • Rios Salvajes
                                                                  Rios Salvajes  4 months back

                                                                  Kallie is my favorite host. She can make clear and interesting the most complicated thing. And she's gorgeous too.

                                                                  • Maxine Bonadie
                                                                    Maxine Bonadie  4 months back

                                                                    Did she say...”...somehow” Like she doesn’t know exactly how🤣

                                                                    • jusk8lp
                                                                      jusk8lp  4 months back

                                                                      I want to learn about the evolution of BATS

                                                                      • Beneko '11
                                                                        Beneko '11  4 months back

                                                                        Huh.... so sea rats sailed the seas..... pi-rats

                                                                        • Twiggafinga
                                                                          Twiggafinga  4 months back

                                                                          They're adorable haha

                                                                          • Zephiris
                                                                            Zephiris  4 months back

                                                                            I prefer the flying pikachu theory. They crossed by balloons~

                                                                            • Michael Hassemer
                                                                              Michael Hassemer  4 months back

                                                                              Those hand-moves are really nice. A language in itself.

                                                                              • HonorisCreed
                                                                                HonorisCreed  4 months back

                                                                                07:30, you call dying of thirst "unpleasant"? o_o

                                                                                • Sirius White
                                                                                  Sirius White  4 months back

                                                                                  thanks for your video. the rodents could have drank fresh water during and after rainfall. also, if the temperature was very cold and there was ice between the continents, clearly the rodents could also have walked across the ice to find new land.

                                                                                  • Andrew Dussault
                                                                                    Andrew Dussault  4 months back

                                                                                    Sounds like the prequel to Watership Down.

                                                                                    • Ruben Kelevra
                                                                                      Ruben Kelevra  4 months back

                                                                                      Columbus: I've crossed the Atlantic Ocean and discovered America!
                                                                                      Guinea Pig: Hold my running wheel

                                                                                      • guiller
                                                                                        guiller  4 months back

                                                                                        Carpincho :D

                                                                                        • Intellect, reason&Logic Use your brain

                                                                                          Its not hard to figure out that they ended up on ships made by humans and got moved around, just like rabbits mice ect

                                                                                          • Kevin Schultz
                                                                                            Kevin Schultz  4 months back

                                                                                            so then are porcupines in America and in Africa examples of convergent evolution?

                                                                                            • ꧂Oddish꧂
                                                                                              ꧂Oddish꧂  4 months back

                                                                                              I thought the video was a metaphor about European imperialism, it's not carry on.

                                                                                              • splendor Inthegrass
                                                                                                splendor Inthegrass  4 months back

                                                                                                I hate rodents...

                                                                                                • jatinder saini
                                                                                                  jatinder saini  4 months back

                                                                                                  They were planted there by KGB