Unearthed at the small island of Minorca, the enormous bunny that lived three to five million years ago was so hefty that it had no enemies, but also couldn’t hop!
Nuralgus rex, dubbed the Minorcan King of the Rabbits weighed in at over 26.4 pounds, almost six times more than most current day rabbits.
“N. rex was a very robust and peculiar rabbit,” project leader Josep Quintana told Discovery News. “Surely he was a very calm and peaceful animal that moved with slow, but powerful, movements.”
The researchers think N. rex spent most of its days peacefully digging, searching for roots and tubers to eat.
“The ancestors of N. rex arrived at Minorca during the Messinian crisis 5.3 million years ago,” Quintana said. “During this geological time, the Mediterranean Sea dried up and the Balearic islands connected with the surrounding mainland (of Europe and Africa), so the proto-Nuralagus rex arrived walking to Minorca.”
Brian Kraatz, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, said “There is an underlying assumption that rabbits appeared some 40 million years ago and have been perfectly happy to stay just about the same” .
“This new species is interesting in that it’s quite different from what we know of living or fossil rabbits. Aside from its incredibly large size, its hind legs are rather short, not so good for hopping,” Kraatz added, “It’s unclear whether their feet would have been decent good luck charms.”