|This picture shows how big N. rex was|
compared to a European rabbit now.
|Minorca is that island way over on the east,|
where the red dot is.
Anyway, these rabbits weighed about 26 pounds each, which is 6 times the size of living European rabbits. The reason why they got so humongous is because of something called the "island rule." And what this rule says is that big mammals living on an island may get smaller because of the lack of food, and small mammals may get larger because there are no predators to eat them. So the N. rex rabbits probably started out the same size as the rabbits on the mainland, and then gradually, during thousands of years of happy island life, they got bigger and bigger, until they were "king-sized" rabbits.
And another thing that happened, since Minorcan king rabbits didn't have to worry about predators, was that their spines got shorter and less flexible, so they couldn't hop anymore. Which means that they probably just waddled around, sort of like a beaver on land. And besides that, their eyes and ears got smaller, because they didn't need them so much to listen and watch for predators. N. rex had curved claws, so it is likely that they dug up lots of roots and tubers to eat.
|One of the beautiful Minorcan beaches|
where the giant rabbits used to hang out.
The man who found all these N. rex bones was a paleontologist named Josep Quintana, from the Catalan Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona. It took him about four years to get the bones out of the hard red stone where they were. And the way he got them out was by using many gallons of acetic acid, which is like a very concentrated vinegar. It was hard work, and it took a lot of patience, but Mr. Quintana said it was totally worth it. And I think that the best part of all was that Mr. Quintana published his findings during the Year of the Rabbit.