Temporal range: Early - Late Pleistocene
The Marsupial Lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, is an extinct species of carnivorous marsupial that lived in Australia from the early to late Pleistocene, from 1,600,000 to 40,000 years ago. The scientific name comes from the words thylakos - pouch, leo - lion, and carnifex - murderer, tormentor or butcher. It is (or was) the largest carnivore, or meat-eating mammal, ever to have lived in Australia.
The marsupial lion is closely related to the wombat and the koala, but not the cat family even though it looked like a cat. It had strong claws and very powerful jaws. Scientists have estimated by quantitative measurements that it had the most powerful bite of any animal, alive or extinct. It was able to hunt animals like the giant kangaroo and the giant wombat, but its big jaw would have made it hard for it to hunt and kill small animals. The marsupial lion could weigh up to 130 kg (287 lb). It was about 1.5 m (5 ft) long, and stood about 75 cm (2 ft) tall.
Fossils and other evidence [change]
Fossil bones of the marsupial lion have been found in caves on the Nullabor Plain. Scientists have estimated their age at between 400,000 and 800,000 years old. Cave paintings of marsupial lions in northwest Australia, discovered in 2006, depict them with a striped back, tufted tail and pointed ears. In 2009, after a long drought in southeast Victoria had dried out many lakes, a farmer near Ballarat discovered fossil footprints and a jawbone of a marsupial lion preserved in limestone in a dry lake bed.
Other websites [change]
- "Australia's Lost Kingdoms - Pleistocene Marsupial Lion". www.lostkingdoms.com. http://www.lostkingdoms.com/facts/factsheet54.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "News in Science - Marsupial lion reignites megafauna debate - 25/01/2007". www.abc.net.au. http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/1832750.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Ice Age marsupial lion a real nipper of a beast - National - www.theage.com.au". theage.com.au. http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Ice-Age-marsupial-lion-a-real-nipper-of-a-beast/2005/04/02/1112302283477.html. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Marsupial lion was fast killer". www.theaustralian.news.com.au. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23069545-30417,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Underground monsters found - Science - Specials - smh.com.au". smh.com.au. http://www.smh.com.au/news/science/underground-monsters-found/2007/01/25/1169594402921.html. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Cave Painting Depicts Extinct Marsupial Lion". news.yahoo.com. http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090510/sc_livescience/cavepaintingdepictsextinctmarsupiallion. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Mega-marsupial grave in dry lake". www.news.com.au. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25527894-2862,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-24.