Publication Details

Locatelli, E., Awe Due, R., Van Den Bergh, G. D. & Van Den Hoek Ostende, L. W. (2012). Pleistocene survivors and Holocene extinctions: the giant rats from Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia). Quaternary International, 281 (N/A), 47-57.


Excavations at Liang Bua Cave yielded a large amount of micromammal remains, the major part of which are murids, and some can be referred to three different species of giant rats. Whilst Papagomys armandvillei is still living on Flores, the other two species, Papagomys theodorverhoeveni and Spelaeomys florensis went extinct late during the Holocene. In this paper, the fossil record of these species at Liang Bua Cave is discussed. These giant murids are a clear example of insular gigantism, and can be seen as end members of the Island Rule. Opposition against the general applicability of this 'rule' is mainly based on a scale perspective. The study of giant rats at Liang Bua cave provides new insights in the understanding of human behavior, diet and environment. A strong acme in the number of giant rats in the cave during the Holocene may represent a taphonomical artifact, resulting from Palaeolithic hunting activity.



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