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Prehistoric Mammals Theme Unit
A One-Ton Guinea Pig in a Box!



A One-Ton Guinea Pig in a Box!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.41

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    antitoxin, diphtheria, monesi, mystical, pounds-big, curator, shocking, descendents, heredity, medical, herbivore, healers, unique, saber-toothed, researchers, mystery
     content words:    South America


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A One-Ton Guinea Pig in a Box!
By Colleen Messina
  

1     If the idea of seeing a mouse makes you jump up on a chair, that's just one more reason for you to be grateful to live in the 21st century. Scientists have discovered a four-million-year-old fossil of a gigantic rodent. It was about ten feet long and five feet tall. It weighed nearly 2,000 pounds-big enough to crush most 21st century chairs!
 
2     It's really too bad that this large fossil spent so much time in a box. A fossil collector discovered the skull in Uruguay in 1987. He donated it to a museum. Strangely enough, the staff put the fossil in a box. Years later, the curator of the museum found the box and realized it held an excellent discovery. He began unraveling the mystery of the world's largest rodent.
 
3     The creature amazed the curator of the museum. He showed it to a fossil expert. Even though they only had the skull, the scientists realized that the creature was unique. The skull was larger than a cow's. It had 4-inch teeth. The curator said, "You feel the power of a very big animal behind this." The creature also received a big scientific name: Josephoartigasia monesi. He probably looked like an unbelievable cross between a hippo and a guinea pig.

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Prehistoric Mammals Theme Unit
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