Giant hutia

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Giant hutias
Temporal range: Pleistocene
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricomorpha
Infraorder: Hystricognathi
Parvorder: Caviomorpha
Family: Heptaxodontidae (disputed)
Anthony, 1917


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 might 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, might have survived as late as the days when the Spanish were beginning to conquer North America. Some of their smaller 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.

See also[edit]


  • 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. American Museum Novitates 3079: 1-26. PDF fulltext
  • MacPhee, R. D. E. & Flemming, C. (2003): A possible heptaxodontine and other caviidan rodents from the Quaternary of Jamaica. American Museum Novitates 3422: 1-42. PDF fulltext
  • Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
  • Woods, C. A. 1989. Biogeography of West Indian rodents. Pages 741–797 in Biogeography of the West Indies: Past Present and Future. Sandhill Crane Press, Gainesville.