Significance to humans

Some species used as food source for Native Americans. The remains of Heptaxodontidae allow valuable scientific insight into the dynamics of adaptive evolution on islands.

Giant Hutia
Puerto Rican giant hutia (Elasmodontomys obliquus). (Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

Common name /

Scientific name/


Habitat and


Other common names






Anguilla-St. Martin giant hutia

Some individuals reached the size of an

Probably lived in tropical

Remains have been

Unknown, but


Amblyrhiza inundata

American black bear (Ursus americanus).

rainforest. Behavior is

found on the islands of

presumably herbivorous.

Adult sizes vary from a low of about


Anguilla and St. Martin

110 lb (50 kg) to a high of about 440 lb

in the northern Lesser

(200 kg). The distinctive, obliquely


orientated laminae on the molars average

out at 35° from the long axis of the skull.

Hispaniolan giant hutia

Weight about 31 lb (14 kg), about the

Probably tropical rainforest.

Hispaniola. The species

Unknown, but


Quemisia gravis

same size as Elasmodontomys. It had an

Behavior is unknown.

is known only from

presumably herbivorous.

unusual twisting of the enamel pattern of

bones found in caves

the molars. The obliquely orientated

near St. Michel in Haiti

laminae on the molars average out at 55°

and Samana Bay in the

from the long axis of the skull.

Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rican giant hutia

A large, terrestrial rodent with a heavy-set

Probably lowland and

The species is known

Unknown, but


Elasmodontomys obliquus

body and a body weight of 31 lb (14 kg).

montane tropical rainforest.

only from bones

presumably herbivorous.

The flat-topped skull resembles that of a

Behavior is unknown.

recovered from cave

nutria (Myocastor coypus). The short

deposits in Puerto Rico.

bones of its digits indicate that it was

terrestrial and not arboreal. The obliquely

orientated laminae on the molars average

out at 45° from the long axis of the skull.

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