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Temporal range: Miocene–Pleistocene
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricomorpha
Infraorder: Hystricognathi
Parvorder: Caviomorpha
Superfamily: Chinchilloidea
Family: Heptaxodontidae
Anthony, 1917


Heptaxodontidae, rarely called giant hutia, is an extinct family of large rodents known from fossil and subfossil material found in the West Indies. One species, Amblyrhiza inundata, is estimated to have weighed between 50 and 200 kg (110 and 440 lb), reaching the weight of an eastern gorilla. This is twice as large as the capybara, the largest rodent living today, but still much smaller than Josephoartigasia monesi, the largest rodent known. These animals were probably used as a food source by the pre-Columbian peoples of the Caribbean.

Heptaxodontidae contains no living species and the grouping seems to be paraphyletic[1] and arbitrary, however. One of the smaller species, Quemisia gravis, may have survived as late as when the Spanish began to colonize the Caribbean.[2]

Despite the vernacular name, heptaxodontids are not closely related to the extant hutias of the family Echimyidae. Heptaxodontids are thought to be more closely related to the chinchillas.[3]


Heptaxodontidae is divided into two subfamilies and contains six species in five genera.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas Defler (2018). History of Terrestrial Mammals in South America. Springer International Publishing. p. 154. Retrieved 2022-08-27.
  2. ^ Day, David (1989). Vanished Species. New York: Gallery Books. p. 236. ISBN 9780831727826.
  3. ^ Fabre, Pierre-Henri; Vilstrup, Julia T.; Raghavan, Maanasa; Der Sarkissian, Clio; Willerslev, Eske; Douzery, Emmanuel J. P.; Orlando, Ludovic (July 2014). "Rodents of the Caribbean: origin and diversification of hutias unravelled by next-generation museomics". Biology Letters. 10 (7). doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0266. ISSN 1744-9561. PMC 4126619. PMID 25115033.