Temporal range: Pleistocene
The giant hutias are an extinct group of large rodents known from fossil and subfossil material in the West Indies. One species, Amblyrhiza inundata, is estimated to have weighed between 50 and 200 kg (110 and 440 lb), big specimens being as large as an American black bear. This is much larger than capybara, the largest rodent living today, but still much smaller than Josephoartigasia monesi, the largest rodent known. These animals may have persisted into historic times and were probably used as a food source by aboriginal humans. All giant hutias are in a single family, Heptaxodontidae, which contains no living species; this grouping seems to be paraphyletic and artificial however.
One of the smaller species, Quemisia, may have survived as late as the days when the Spanish were beginning to conquer North America. Some of their nongiant relatives from the family Capromyidae, known as hutias, survive in the Caribbean Islands.
The giant hutias are divided into two subfamilies, five genera, and six species.
- Family Heptaxodontidae
- Subfamily Heptaxodontinae
- Subfamily Clidomyinae
- Biknevicius, A. R.; McFarlane, Donald A. & MacPhee, R. D. E (1993): Body size in Amblyrhiza inundata (Rodentia: Caviomorpha), an extinct megafaunal rodent from the Anguilla Bank, West Indies: estimates and implications. Am. Mus. Novit. 3079: 1-26. PDF fulltext
- MacPhee, R. D. E. & Flemming, C. (2003): A possible heptaxodontine and other caviidan rodents from the Quaternary of Jamaica. Am. Mus. Novit. 3422: 1-42. PDF fulltext
- Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
- Woods, C. A. 1989. Biogeography of West Indian rodents. Pp 741–797 in Biogeography of the West Indies: Past Present and Future. Sandhil Crane Press, Gainesville.